NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

April 23, 2012

Looking back on Fenway's 100 years

Fenway Park, New England's treasured temple of baseball, is officially 100 years old. Only Chicago's Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs, can approach the bond of affection among a team, its fans and their park that is found at Fenway.

And with good reason. No other venue in sports can boast of such a history of victory and defeat, of triumph and suffering as that witnessed at Fenway.

That history began on April 20, 1912, with a victory over the New York Highlanders, the team that the following season would become the Yankees. That inaugural season would see the Red Sox win the World Series, a feat they would accomplish three more times that decade — although they would play the 1915 and 1916 World Series games in the larger capacity Braves Field.

After winning the 1918 World Series, owner Harry Frazee broke up the team in 1919, selling his stars to the highest bidders. Young Babe Ruth went to the Yankees and the Sox entered a bit of a dry spell. They wouldn't win another World Series for 86 years. The team didn't even have another winning season until 1934.

The decade of the 1930s saw owner Tom Yawkey begin to assemble a team that once again could challenge the Yankees. In 1938, slugger Jimmie Foxx blasted 50 homers and drove in 175 runs while hitting .349. That team home run record would stand until 2006 when David Ortiz hit 54.

By the 1940s, new names like Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky and Dom DiMaggio would grace the team. Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived, was the last player to hit above .400 with his .406 average in 1941. In a piece written for the New Yorker about Williams' last game on Sept. 28, 1960, John Updike called Fenway Park a "lyric little bandbox of a ballpark," a description that has endured to this day.

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