Monday, August 12, 2019

It's Not Really a Monster

Instead, the Green Monster is the popular name for the 37.2 feet high left field wall at Fenway Park baseball field in Boston, MA, which we visited recently for the first time. 

This 37.2 feet high left field wall was part of the ball field's 1912 construction and back then it was built of wood. In 1934, it was re-covered in tin and concrete. Then in 1976, it was covered once again, this time in a hard plastic. 

Despite the fact that we've lived in New England for the past few years, we'd never been to Fenway Park in Boston, MA, the oldest ball field in Major League Baseball and home to the Boston Red Sox. 

The stadium was built in 1912 at a cost of $650,000. Its original owner, John Taylor, said the name came from its location in Boston's Fenway neighborhood. But, his family owned Fenway Realty Company and that's widely considered the reason for the name. The team became the Boston Red Sox in 1908, adapting it from the Boston Red Stockings. The name, reportedly chosen by Taylor, referred to the red hose in the team uniforms. 

Our lapse in seeing Fenway Park changed in July as that's when the Nashua Senior Center sponsored a trip to tour the ball field. It was a very warm and humid day and this outing didn't include a game. Maybe we'll do that someday on a (hopefully) cooler day.

The now-called Green Monster was constructed due to the shape of the lot when Fenway Park was built. Since the distance to the left field fence was a short 315 feet, the wall was built to prevent a ball being hit out of the park. In 1936, a 23-foot net was put in above the wall to protect storefronts on adjoining Lansdowne Street from home run balls. 

It was dubbed The Wall and was plastered with advertisements as shown in this vintage 1914 photo by John F. Riley. 
The current moniker was applied after the wall was painted green in 1947. It's the highest among Major League Baseball field walls and the second highest among all Major and Minor league ball fields. (The highest wall by 6 inches is the left field wall at Peoples Bank Park in York, PA.) Fenway Park is the last of high-walled major league ballparks constructed for necessity vs. novelty. 

Not clearly visible in the above photo is a manual scorecard that was higher up in the wall. It was replaced in 1934 by a ground-level manual scoreboard that now forms the lower half of the Green Monster. It's still manually updated from behind the wall throughout games. The wall has 127 slots. A team of three scorekeepers move two-pound, 13 x 16-inch plates to represent the score. Yellow numbers represent in-inning scores; white numbers represent final inning tallies. American League scores are updated from behind the wall; National League scores are updated from the front between innings. A board also shows current American League East rankings. 

In 2003, when the 1936 net was removed, the Red Sox team's new owners recognized the allegiance that fans had to the Green Monster and added 269 metal seats on top of it.
As the photo above shows, there's a ladder visible. In earlier years, the grounds crew would climb it to retrieve home run balls from the netting above the wall. When the net was removed to add seating, the ladder was no longer. It remains as a historic icon and is the only such one in the Major Leagues.
Green Monster seat pricing is variable and determined by row, date, opposing team and even weather. It's hard to see clearly, but here's seat pricing from the Red Sox online site as you can see (maybe) they are monstrously priced..

These are definitely not the cheap seats and are certainly not the most comfortable as we learned first-hand. We were thankful to only give them a non-paying try-out.

Fenway Park and Wrigley Field in Chicago, IL, are the last two remaining jewel box ballparks still in use by Major League Baseball. Both fields have numerous obstructed view seats, due to pillars supporting the upper deck.
These seats are sold as such. They serve as reminders of some of the architectural limitations of older ballparks. From 1875 through 1903, over two dozen wooden baseball parks were constructed in the U.S. mostly of wood as owners were conscious of cost. These stadiums were forerunners of what became jewel box stadiums. After owners realized the dangers of all wood ballparks, and the sport's popularity grew, they built concrete and steel parks. These classic stadiums were smaller with a single main level and a smaller upper level supported by "I" beams.

Fenway Park celebrated its centennial in April 2012 and has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. It's the fourth smallest MLB ballpark by seating capacity, second smallest by total capacity, and one of eight fields that cannot hold at least 40,000 spectators. (Online sources gave seating as between 37,305 and 37,755.)

In 1999, plans for a new Fenway Park were proposed that would have demolished the existing stadium, except the Green Monster. The plan was controversial. Save Fenway Park groups formed to try and block the move. The City of Boston and the Red Sox never failed to come to an agreement on a new stadium. In 2005, the Red Sox ownership announced it would remain at Fenway indefinitely. The stadium has since been renovated and is projected to remain usable until as late as 2061.

We learned a lot about Fenway Park, but it wasn't the only tour stop. After lunch, the group went to another landmark, the Samuel Adams Boston Brewery. (While it's not at the ball park, there's a prominent sign there.)
Following a brief tour, there was some beer sampling. As mentioned earlier, it was a hot and humid tour day. This stop was really a thirst-quencher. (Root beer was available for any non-beer fans.)


Anvilcloud said...

This is a nice report on this classic wall.

baili said...

wow you made me visit this dear friend :)

how nice that late but finally you went to visit this marvelous place

you impressed me with interesting history details

your precious faces always make the post COMPLETE :)

more blessings to you my friend!

Sandra said...

the park is really amazing to see. I have heard of it and seen parts of it in movies and it is mentioned in books a lot. I like all the photos that show the whole park. wow... those seats are way to miserable looking to sit in, and the price of course is WOW

Kathy said...

What a great tour of Fenway. And so many facts! I just loved it. Thanks again for taking me with you. I always love your tours.

Jon said...

A fascinating post and fantastic pictures! I knew next to nothing about Fenway Park, so your information was appreciated. I also never knew how the Red Sox got their name.

On a hot summer day it's probably best that you only went on a tour - rather than sit through a long game.

The prices on those tickets SHOCKED me!!! I'm not exactly ancient, but I remember when you could see a California Angels game for 10 bucks.
I used to be a HUGE baseball fan long ago when I lived in California. My enthusiasm waned when they changed everything and started adding new teams.

bill burke said...

I used to go to Fenway with my grandmother when I was younger. She was a lifetime fan who always had the game of her radio during the season. I listen here through the mlb website. It's my entertainment for sports. There is a five hour difference so games begin at midnight.
Great report!

L. D. said...

I have seen one of them while driving on the freeway to get to the kids house. I don’t know which one but it is a big one and I can see some of the netting that they have up. I am not a baseball fan but I would still enjoy the tour.

Karen Lakis said...

I love Fenway Park and have been to many games over the years - but not many recently. My husband and I used to go see the sox play back when we were dating. At the time, we could just head over from work and buy a ticket in the bleachers for $4. Times sure have changed... This was an interesting post - I really didn't know very much about the park, itself.

Nil @ The Little House by the Lake said...

I don’t know anything about baseball. Haha
But still it’s interesting to learn about a historical ballpark.

Valerie said...

Interesting write-up. You got me wondering if we ever have baseball in the UK. There are football clubs all over but I haven't heard anything about baseball.

Mevely317 said...

Hi-ya Beatrice! Thanks again for visiting and introducing yourself so I might, in turn, stroll your direction. Pleased to be your latest groupie, er follower. :)

I'm not a Huge fan of the game, but found this information SO interesting. (Stunned at seat prices, tho.)

My dad was from New English (Easthampton) and I recall summer vacations fondly. Maybe it was just the White Birch Beer soda that I coveted? LOL.

William Kendall said...

The stadium is quite impressive!

Electric | Journal said...

You find the most interesting places to visit on your road trips! Thanks much for this write-up; I have a friend who has visited most of the major-league baseball fields in the country, and lived a block from Wrigley Field in Chicago for a couple of years. But I never realized the significance of these old stadiums, both architecturally and historically. I'm glad they saved Fenway Park.

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