This fall’s Fenway Gridiron Series has begun, adding a new chapter to the rich football history of Fenway Park.
When it comes to baseball, there is plenty to history to associate with Fenway Park. Opening for the Boston Red Sox in 1912, it is currently the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball. Thanks to renovations and upkeep on the part of the Red Sox, Fenway Park is expected to continue hosting MLB action for decades to come.
Aside from its ties to baseball, Fenway Park can also claim a unique history in football. The ballpark hosted its first football game in 1912, and went on to become the home of several professional franchise–including the NFL’s Boston Redskins (1933-1936) and later the AFL’s Boston Patriots (1963-1968). Fenway Park is being put back into use for football this fall as part of the Fenway Gridiron Series, a slate that includes three college and three high school games and began Friday with a matchup between Dartmouth and Brown. On our sister site Football Stadium Digest, Jesse Goldberg-Strassler–author of The Baseball Thesaurus and The Football Thesaurus—took a look at Fenway Park’s football history, including its unique connection to baseball broadcasting legends:
The Boston College Eagles football squad played their first of 76 games (and counting) at Fenway Park in 1915, a cakewalk over Norwich University. Their most famous game on Yawkey Way came 25 years later. Over 40,000 fans attended the November 16th, 1940, showdown between undefeated BC and undefeated Georgetown. Those in attendance included sportswriting icon Grantland Rice, who typed afterward, “It was the greatest all-around exhibition of power, skill, deception and flaming spirit that I have ever seen on a football field for over 40 years” and “probably the greatest football game ever played by college or pros.” Pro Football Hall of Famer Frank Leahy’s Eagles ended the Hoyas’ 23-game unbeaten streak with a heart stopping 19-18 triumph. This summer, Sports on Earth’s Matt Brown ranked the game among the Top 100 college football games ever.
In 1949, another future luminary stopped by Fenway Park for football. Ernie Harwell had been assigned to call the Maryland/Boston University game at Fenway on November 12th, but he was reassigned to North Carolina/Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium when the scheduled broadcaster fell ill. Red Barber, in charge of such matters, quickly contacted a 21-year-old broadcaster whose name had been passed his way, giving him the Maryland/BU assignment. So it was that Vin Scully made his broadcast debut via hand microphone from Fenway Park’s blustery roof, calling Maryland’s 14-13 win over the nationally-ranked Terriers and impressing Barber with his performance against the elements. Scully was rewarded with another football assignment the next week, Harvard vs. Yale, and brought aboard the Brooklyn Dodgers’ broadcast team the ensuing season.
The Fenway Gridiron Series continues on Saturday with a matchup between UMass and Maine.
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