To learn about our efforts to improve the accessibility and usability of our website, please visit our Accessibility Information page. Skip to main content


For Red Sox fans, 1920 started with the devastating news that Babe Ruth had been sold to the Yankees, ushering in the start of a miserable decade for the Red Sox on the field. Still, some good things did happen at Fenway Park in its first year without Ruth, including the park's first boxing match and concert.

The Red Sox

Record: 72-81, 5th in American League
Manager: Edward G. Barrow
Attendance: 402,445

In the very first days of 1920, Red Sox fans heard the news: Babe Ruth had been sold to the New York Yankees. Owner Harry Frazee argued that the Red Sox would perform better without Ruth's disruptive influence.

Though many Boston newspapers agreed, Ruth stunned the baseball world by hitting .376 with 54 home runs in his first year with New York. The Yankees scored 260 more runs than they had the previous season, while Boston fans rued the slugger's absence and showered him with applause every time the Yankees visited.

Boston's winning percentage in 1920 was slightly lower than it was the year before, though they did finish one rung higher in fifth place. The team batting average and ERA improved but attendance slipped. The team won its first five home games, but by year's end Fenway Park drew an average of 1,135 fewer fans per game than it had the previous season. With a disappointing 72-81 record, Boston finished 25 ½ games behind first-place Cleveland.

Harry Hooper led the Red Sox in home runs and his seven blasts accounted for nearly a third of the team's total of 22. Newcomer Tim Hendryx led the squad with 73 RBIs and a batting average of .328, while Herb Pennock's 16 wins paced the pitching staff.

The 1920 season was the start of a disappointing decade for the Red Sox and the infamous Ruth transaction foreshadowed the sale of many Red Sox players to the Yankees in the early 1920s.

Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park

While 1920 was the start of a difficult decade for the Red Sox, Harvard and Yale played their first Fenway Park game against each other on June 26, 1920. Harvard defeated Yale 6-3 before a crowd of roughly 20,000 patrons.

1920 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park
June 26Harvard 6, Yale 3

More Than a Ballpark™

In May 1920, the Spanish War Veterans hosted a Fenway Park memorial service in tribute to their fallen comrades. Later in the summer, composer John Philip Sousa performed a concert at Fenway Park. The ballpark showcased a wild and raucous boxing show in October that ended with post-fight violence and an angry crowd. Fenway Park also opened its doors to amateur football with high school and college gridiron action during the fall months of 1920.

1920 Non-Baseball Events At Fenway Park
May 30War Memorial Service*
August 8John Philip Sousa Concert
October 9Open Air Boxing Show
October 12Boston Latin 18, Mechanics Arts High 0 (Football)
October 12Dorchester High 7, Boston English 6 (Football)
November 20Boston College 13, Marietta College 3 (Football)

*Started in the 1910s, a late May memorial service coinciding with the Memorial Day weekend was often held at Fenway Park through the mid-20th Century.

October 9, 1920
 Open Air Boxing Show at Fenway Park

The first boxing event held at Fenway Park was a wild affair held on a beautiful Saturday afternoon that left the 5,000 in attendance stunned by the ferocity of the main bout and its unexpected aftermath.

After heavyweight contender Battling McCreary won a clear 10-round decision over John Lester Johnson, McCreary went over to his opponent's corner to shake hands and was met by what the Boston Globe described as a "stiff wallop to the mouth."

This prompted another fight in which McCreary not only knocked Johnson out of the ring, but also struck Johnson on the head with a stool that McCreary had grabbed from his corner. Fan reaction was immediate and at least one tonic bottle was tossed at McCreary as he scampered to his dressing room.

In other bouts that day, Eddie Shevlin of Roxbury won a 10-round decision over Paul Doyle of New York, "Pal" Reed of Framingham stopped Johnny Alecks of Philadelphia in the eighth round, and Young Sacco of East Boston scored a surprise win over Harry "Kid" Brown of Philadelphia in 10 rounds.

October 12, 1920
 Boston Latin and Dorchester Win
 at Fenway Park Football Doubleheader

After Boston Latin defeated Mechanics Arts High 18-0 in the first game of the October 12 doubleheader, Dorchester High and Boston English played a thriller in the second contest. English missed the extra-point after its lone touchdown, which was scored in dramatic fashion following a blocked kick. In the fourth quarter Dorchester recovered an English fumble and quickly advanced upfield. Dorchester right halfback George Kinally then rushed for a touchdown and made the point-after kick to give his team a 7-6 victory.

Fenway Park In 1929 (Credit: Leslie Jones/Boston Public Library)