- A. Bartlett Giammati made the statement: "When I was seven years old, my father took me to Fenway Park for the first time, and as I grew up I knew that as a building it was on the level of Mount Olympus, the Pyramid at Giza, the nation's Capitol, the Czar's Winter Palace, and the Louvre - except, of course, that it was better than all those inconsequential places."Contrary to some rumors probably spread by Yankee fans, the scholarly Giammati was not around for the start of play at Fenway which was a very long time ago. Prior to 1912, the Red Sox played at Huntington Avenue Grounds, now part of Northeastern University. Fittingly, the first American League team to visit Fenway Park was New York -- at that time known as the Highlanders, soon to become the Yankees. It was a damp and chilly New England spring that year.
The Red Sox actually played their first game at Fenway 11 days before, defeating Harvard University in an exhibition game played in a snowstorm. Then the Red Sox and Highlanders had to sit out two rainouts before facing off on Saturday April 20, just a few days after the sinking of the Titanic.
The future grandfather of President John F. Kennedy, Boston Mayor John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald was one of the 27,000 in attendance. He threw out the first ball in the park that was built at a cost of $350,000 that would come to be known as "Boston's Sistine Chapel." They played on into extra innings. Boston prevailed finally winning,7-6, on a Tris Speaker RBI in the bottom of the 11th inning. Red Sox spitballer Bucky O'Brien and Sea Lion Hall defeated New York's Jumbo Jim Vaughn.Opening day turned out to be a good predictor of the season's fortunes for both Boston and New York.
The Red Sox took the American League pennant in 1912 with a 105-47 record, good for a winning percentage of .691, and went on to beat the New York Giants in the World Series. The Highlanders, suffering their 6th straight loss, went 50-102 (.329), finishing in last place, a whopping 55 games behind the Red Sox. Even after the BoSox had Fenway as a home park, they didn't always play all their games there. From time to time, they scheduled "big games" at Braves Field to accommodate larger crowds than their little park could accommodate. But that worry is way in the past - - now a seat at Fenway is one of the toughest tickets in all of baseball.
About the Author: 2011 marks Harvey Frommer's 36th consutive year of writing sports books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 40 sports books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM, an oral/narrative history was published in 2008 as well as a reprint version of his classic "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball." Frommer's newest work REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION (Abrams) is available direct from the author or at on line sites or at bookstores. http://harveyfrommersports.com/remembering_fenway/ He is available for speaking engagements. FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time. FOLLOW Harvey on Twitter: http://twitter.com/south2nd. Web: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~frommer.