Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Different park, different name

Fenway Park did not always look as modern as it does now. Back in 1911, there was no red seat, no green monster and the metal grandstands were made out of wood. But after a fire destroyed most of Fenway in 1934 in 1934 the owners of the park thankfully realized that wooden grandstands were a terrible idea. Before the reinvention in the 30’s, Fenway was born out of the mind of architect James McLaughlin and constructed ten years after the debut of the Red Sox… although at the time I think they were called the Boston Americans.

During the first six years of the team they found themselves playing in an old, dilapidated park called the Huntington Avenue Grounds. Despite the fact that the team had an incredibly boring name and were playing in an ugly park that could only seat about 11,500 fans (less than a third of what the capacity is at Fenway today) it did not take long for the public to notice that the Boston Americans were a team to be reckoned with. Most notably, former Red Sox pitcher Cy Young pitched a perfect game at Huntington in 1904. Boston Globe owner Charles Taylor would then go on to buy the Boston Americans three years later, rename them the Red Sox and promise them a new park to play in.

Construction on Fenway began in September 1911 and cost $650,000. The first version of the park wasn’t perfect; there was a 10 foot inclined embankment near the left field wall. This did not make for very effective runs for fly balls but every humble beginning has a few missteps. It would take years for Fenway to come close to resembling the way that we know it now but we can all be sure that however new or imperfect the park was at first, it still beat Huntington Avenue ballpark. No one wants to watch a documentary about that place. If you really want to see were the Red Sox played before they were actually the Red Sox, you can find Huntington on the Northeastern campus but come on, you know you’re just going to be going to Fenway instead.

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