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Red Sox mark Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary with ballpark events

Fenway Park 1912

Fenway Park hits the century mark this month, and the Boston Red Sox are planning a series of events to mark the momentous occasion.

The festivities actually began yesterday, when the Harvard University baseball team commemorated an exhibition game between the Red Sox and Harvard on April 9, 1912 by taking batting practice and working out on the field where Harvard students played exactly 100 years ago. Throwing batting practice: former Crimson and Red Sox pitcher Mike Stenhouse, who ended his career with the BoSox  Stenhouse is one of only two players to don the Red Sox and Harvard uniforms, along with infielder Tony Lupien, who played for Boston in the early 1940s.

“Harvard baseball is thrilled to be included in the birthday celebration at Fenway Park,” said Harvard baseball coach Joe Walsh. “Our guys look forward to any chance to set foot on a Major League Baseball diamond – in this case a batting practice session where many will take aim at the Green Monster. These are special moments that all young baseball players dream about and Harvard has been fortunate to have these opportunities every few years.”

Also part of yesterday’s activities: Boston Mayor Thomas Menino conducted his annual tour of Fenway Park, getting the first look at the new exhibit spaces, historical displays and plaques, all part of “Fenway Park: A Living Museum.” As part of the tour, Menino’s first stop were the 18,500 newly laid bricks inside Gate B and C that sold out last season and bear messages from fans across Red Sox Nation. Menino also toured the newly designed Royal Rooters Club & Home of the Nation’s Archives, the new 6,000-square-foot club that will serve as a gathering place for season ticket holders on game days, and double as the home to Fenway Park’s most precious artifacts, memorabilia and Fenway’s historical photographs. The archives will be open to the public as part of a revamped 100th-anniversary tour program.

“As a lifelong Red Sox fan, Fenway holds a special place in my heart, as I’m sure it does for every Bostonian,” Menino said. “You feel different stepping into Fenway than you do walking into other parks. It’s like you’re stepping back in time to Carlton Fisk waving the ball fair and Dave Roberts stealing second. I want to congratulate Fenway on 100 wonderful years, and I look forward to the next chapters in its story.”

Fenway Park

These festivities are preliminaries to the big event: the April 20 game against the New York Yankees, marking the 100th anniversary of the actual opening day when the Red Sox hosted the New York Highlanders, the predecessor to the Yankees who made their own mark that season by being the first team to wear pinstripes. Here’s what the Boston Globe wrote in the next day’s edition:

Boston’s beautiful new ball park in the Fenway was yesterday opened before a crowd of 24,000 spectators.

There was no time wasted in childish parades. Mayor Fitzgerald dignified the occasion by tossing out the new ball and the Speed Boys and Highlanders were soon at it, starting the game at 1:10 and closing the entertainment at 4:20, when Tristram Speaker, the Texas sharpshooter, with two down in the 11th inning and Steve Yerkes, on third, smashed the ball too fast for the shortstop to handle and the winning run came over the plate, making the score 7 to 6, and the immense crowd leaving for home for a cold supper, but wreathed in smiles to see the Speed Boys come from behind and by dint of staying prowess land the victory.

The day was ideal. The bright sun brought out the bright colors of the flags and bunting that decorated the big grandstand, and gave the new uniforms of the players a natty look. Before the game started, the crowd broke into the outfield and remained behind the ropes, forcing the teams to make ground rules, all hits going for two bases.

This ruling was a big disadvantage to the home team, for the Highland laddies never hit for more than a single, while three of Boston’s hits went into the crowd, whereas with a clear field they would have gone for three-base drives and possibly home runs, and would have landed the home team a winner before the ninth inning.

While the grounds were in fair condition, there were spots where the earth was soft and lumpy, and this caused fumbling that would never have occurred on a dry field.

April 20 was big for another reason in baseball history: the Detroit Tigers opened Navin Field with a win against the Cleveland Naps.

Image courtesy of Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ggbain-10961.


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