Construction On Fenway Park's Left-Field Wall In 1933 (Credit: The Brearley Collection)
Fenway Park Timeline
The first year of the 1930s brought more of the same at Fenway Park; the Red Sox continued to lose and finished in last place in the American League for the seventh straight year, the annual war memorial was held at the park, amateur baseball was interspersed with the Red Sox season and football dominated the Fenway Park calendar in the fall.
Record: 52-102, 8th in American League
Manager: Charles H. (Heinie) Wagner
Heinie Wagner took over as Red Sox manager in 1930 but the team won six fewer games, losing 102 on their way to eighth place once again. Still, in the first year after the Stock Market Crash of 1929, home attendance actually jumped by more than 50,000.
Milt Gaston and Jack Russell each lost 20 games in 1930 but the biggest loss of the year occurred in early May, when the team traded Red Ruffing to the Yankees for Cedric Durst and $50,000. Though Ruffing had started the 1930 season 0-3 and had lost 47 games for the Red Sox during the previous two seasons, he found great success after leaving Boston and won 231 games for the Yankees during his Hall of Fame career.
Earl Webb, who had been acquired from the Cubs, led the team with a .323 batting average and rookie Tom Oliver finished second at .293. Oliver led the league in at-bats with 646 while striking out just 25 times, tying a league record for the fewest strikeouts by a rookie. From 1930 through 1933, Oliver compiled 1,931 at-bats without hitting a single home run, the longest stretch of at-bats without a home run since the start of the 20th century. Webb, on the other hand, hit 16 home runs in 1930, the most by a Red Sox player since Babe Ruth hit 29 in 1919.
The Gurnett & Company team from the Bankers & Brokers League played three games at Fenway Park in 1930, including the league's first-half title game. On August 8, the Boston Park Department and the Community Service of Boston held the Class C finals of their field day events, which included a circling the bases competition, a throwing for accuracy drill and a catcher's throw.
1930 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park
June 25: 1930 All-Interscholastic team 5, 1929 All-Interscholastic team 2
July 23: Gurnett & Co. 5, Stone & Webster & Blodget 2 (Bankers & Brokers League First-Half Championship)
August 8: Class C finals of the Baseball Field Day Events of the Boston Park Department and the Community Service of Boston
August 26: Gurnett & Co. 5, Atlantic National Bank 0
September 4: Agawam A. A. 5, Gurnett & Co. 1
As a new decade dawned and the Red Sox persisted in the doldrums of the Quinn ownership era, Fenway Park was again busy with non-baseball events in 1930. The annual war memorial mass was held in May and a pair of highly-anticipated boxing matches was interspersed between baseball games during the summer months. In mid-September, the Boston Fire Department's band and other groups rehearsed at Fenway Park in preparation for Boston's Tercentenary Parade. In the fall, Boston College's football team had an up-and-down season at the park that culminated with a 7-0 loss to Holy Cross on November 29. Adding insult to injury, following the defeat, a fuse blew in the BC dressing room and forced the players to change out of their uniforms in the dark.
1930 Non-Baseball Events At Fenway Park
May 18: War Memorial Service*
July 2: Jim Braddock Beats Joe Monte (Boxing)
September 2: Babe Hunt vs. Ernie Schaaf Heavyweight Fight (Boxing)
Sept. 11-12: Rehearsal for Boston Fire Department 150-Man Band and Others
September 27: Boston College 54, Catholic University 7 (Football)
October 4: Boston College High 7, Boston English 0 (Football)
October 6: Boston College 13, U. S. Marines of Philadelphia 7 (Football)
October 10: Boston College High 7, Boston Latin 0 (Football)
October 12: Fordham and BC Football Teams Practice
October 13: Fordham 3, Boston College 0 (Football)
October 25: Boston College 15, Dayton College 6 (Football)
November 1: Marquette 6, Boston College 0 (Football)
November 8: Georgetown 20, Boston College 19 (Football)
November 22: Boston College 47, Boston University 7 (Football)
November 29: Holy Cross 7, Boston College 0 (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.
The Red Sox ended the 1931 season in sixth place in the American League, finishing out of last place for the first time since a seventh place finish in 1924. Despite this slight improvement, the Great Depression had fully set in and attendance at Red Sox games fell significantly in 1931.
Record: 62-90, 6th in American League
Manager: John F. (Shano) Collins
Under Manager John "Shano" Collins, the 1931 Red Sox finished in sixth place in the American League, the first time since 1924 that the team hadn't finished in last place. However, despite the improvement, patronage at the ballpark fell by nearly 100,000 fans, though perhaps the attendance was also a reflection of the full onset of the Great Depression.
Earl Webb was the big story of the year. Building on his work in 1930, the Red Sox right fielder drove in a team-high 103 runs and led the club with a .333 batting average. He kept hitting doubles all year long and in a doubleheader at Fenway Park on September 17, Webb tied the Major League Baseball single-season mark during the first game and set a new record in the second contest with his 65th two-bagger of the season. He hit two more doubles by the end of the season, establishing a record of 67 that still stands nearly 80 years later.
1931 was a relatively quiet year for Fenway Park in terms of non-Red Sox baseball games, though the Boston Parks Department did hold their championship game at the ballpark on September 12, 1931.
1931 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park
August 18: Dorchester (Boston Twi League 4, Philadelphia Colored Giants 4 (tie, 9 innings)
August 21: Boston Post Office Clerks Local 100 Team 8, All-Boston Police Team 3
September 12: St. Thomas C. L. A. A. of Jamaica Plain 6, Maintenance of Lines of Edison Light Company 0 (Boston Parks Department Final)
Soccer returned to Fenway Park in 1931, with the American Soccer League's New York Yankees downing Glasgow Celtic FC by a score of 4-3. Several amateur football games were also played at Fenway in 1931, with Boston College going 5-3 at the ballpark.
1931 Non-Baseball Events At Fenway Park
May 24: War Memorial Service*
May 30: New York Yankees 4, Glasgow Celtic FC 3 (Soccer)
September 26: Boston College 26, Catholic University 7 (Football)
October 2: Boston College High 6, Boston English 6 (Football)
October 3: Boston College 13, Dayton 0 (Football)
October 9: Boston College High 9, Boston Latin 0 (Football)
October 12: Fordham 20, Boston College 0 (Football)
October 17: Villanova 12, Boston College 6 (Football)
October 22: Boston Latin 15, High School of Commerce 0 (Football)
October 22: Boston English 20, Roxbury Memorial 0 (Football)
October 24: Marquette 7, Boston College 0 (Football)
October 30: Boston College 20, Georgetown 2 (Football)
November 2: High School of Commerce 7, Mechanic Arts 6 (Football)
November 2: Boston English 12, Dorchester High 0 (Football)
November 3: Boston Latin 31, Boston Trade 0 (Football)
November 5: Hyde Park High 26, South Boston High 7 (Football)
November 13: Jamaica Plain High 13, Brighton High 6 (Football)
November 14: Boston College 7, Centre College 0 (Football)
November 19: Boston Latin 12, Mechanic Arts 0 (Football)
November 19: Boston English 7, High School of Commerce 0 (Football)
November 22: Boston College 18, Boston University 6 (Football)
November 23: Boston College Football Workout
November 24: South Boston High 7, East Boston High 6 (Football)
November 24: Mechanic Arts High 19, Boston Trade 7 (Football)
November 26: Boston Latin 6, Boston English 0 (Football)
November 26: High School of Commerce 5, Dorchester High 0 (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.
May 30, 1931
Yankees Conquer Celtic at Fenway Park
In one of the few games ever played at Fenway Park where a team named the Yankees was the home club, the soccer version of the New York Yankees defeated the legendary Glasgow Celtic FC before 8,000 fans.
Over sixty non-baseball events were held at Fenway Park in 1932, including football, lacrosse, soccer, boxing and some very interesting wrestling matches. Despite a mid-season managerial change, the Red Sox had another poor season and Fenway Park attendance averaged a paltry few thousand per game in 1932.
Record: 43-111, 8th in American League
Manager: John F. (Shano) Collins (11-44), Martin J. McManus (32-67)
At the start of the 1932 season, Red Sox manager Shano Collins proclaimed, "the boys have lost their inferiority complex," but the year began on a tragic note when pitcher Big Ed Morris was fatally stabbed at a spring training send-off and fish-fry in Alabama.
As late as June 3, the Red Sox had still not managed to win two games in a row and had a record of 7-35. On June 13, the team traded star Earl Webb to the Tigers for Dale Alexander and Roy Johnson. Alexander was hitting just .250 at the time of the trade, but caught fire with the Red Sox and ended the season with a league-leading .367 average.
On June 18, Collins called it quits. The team was 11-44 and Collins wired owner Bob Quinn that he was too discouraged to continue. Collins recommended popular second baseman Marty McManus to take his place. Though the team played better for McManus, they only won 43 games, the lowest season total in franchise history. For the ninth time in 11 years the Red Sox finished in last place in the American League, while averaging just 2,365 fans per game at Fenway Park.
On more than one occasion in 1932, The Sporting News editor J.G. Taylor Spink suggested that New York return the favor and turn a couple of good players over to the Red Sox to create more balance. Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert replied, "There is no charity in baseball."
Fenway Park hosted a tripleheader on September 6, 1932 with three Boston Park Department finals games being played that day.
1932 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park
July 14: All-Scholastics 2, Milford High 2 (Tie)
September 6: Sullivan Square Palledoes 5, East Boston Neptunes 2 (Boston Park Department Finals)
September 6: Roslindale Tuskaroras 5, Hyde Park Sunnyside A.C. 2 (Boston Park Department Finals)
September 6: Holy Name Midgets 3, Roxbury Cubs 2 (Boston Park Department Finals)
September 10: Filene's 6, Houghton & Dutton 3
September 11: Hyde Park Town Team 5, Sons of Italy 4
September 18: Post Office Clerks Local 100 Team 9, Old-Timers Team 1
Starting with the annual war memorial service, 1932 was Fenway Park's busiest year of non-baseball events to date. During the summer, when the Red Sox were on the road, several lacrosse, boxing and wrestling matches were held at the ballpark. The wrestling events were particularly eventful, with a referee being knocked out during the June 22 bout, and an unconscious wrestler (George Myerson) winning his fight on July 20 thanks to an illegal stranglehold applied by his opponent. In the fall, football returned to Fenway Park, including a series of doubleheaders throughout the later months of 1932.
1932 Non-Baseball Events At Fenway Park
May 29: War Memorial Service*
May 29: Boston Shamrock Lacrosse Club Works Out at Fenway
June 2: Boston Shamrocks 9, New York Giants 5 (Lacrosse)
June 9: Boston Shamrocks 13, New York Yankees 3 (Lacrosse)
June 15: Paul Adams Defeats George Myerson (Wrestling)
June 17: Baltimore 7, Boston Shamrocks 5 (Lacrosse)
June 18: Boston Shamrocks 12, New York Giants 7 (Lacrosse)
June 22: Paul Adams Defeats Ted Germaine (Wrestling)
June 28: Ad Zachrow Defeats Nap Proulx (Boxing)
July 7: Leo Larivee Wins over Odonne Piazza (Boxing)
July 12: Paris Apice Defeats Pancho Villa (Boxing)
July 13: Mephisto of Germany Defeats Steve Passas (Wrestling)
July 20: George Myerson Defeats Ted Germaine (Wrestling)
July 26: Leo Larivee Defeats Odonne Piazza in Rematch (Boxing)
August 2: Maxey Rosenbloom Retains Light Heavyweight Crown against Joe Barlow (Boxing)
August 10: Paul Adams Beats Louis Poplin (Wrestling)
August 16: Nap Proulx Beats Manny Davis (Wrestling)
August 23: Dave Shade Beats Norman Conrad (Boxing)
August 24: Mephisto Pins, Defeats Art Flynn (Wrestling)
August 30: Walter Cobb Knocks Out Jack Sigmore in 4th Round (Boxing)
August 31: Steve Passas Defeats Sahib Seibeg (Wrestling)
September 6: Kid Chocolate beats Steve Smith (Boxing)
September 13: "Unknown" Winston Floors Walter Cobb in Second Round (Boxing)
September 27: East Boston 12, Brighton High 0 (Football)
September 27: Roxbury Memorial 6, Charlestown 6 (Football)
September 29: Jamaica Plain 7, Mechanic Arts 0 (Football)
September 29: Trade School 6, Hyde Park High 0 (Football)
September 30: Dorchester High 0, South Boston High 0 (Football)
October 4: Charlestown High 0, High School of Commerce 0 (Football)
October 4: Brighton High 19, Mechanic Arts 0 (Football)
October 5: Hyde Park High 20, Roxbury Memorial 7 (Football)
October 6: East Boston 6, Trade School 0 (Football)
October 6: Jamaica Plain 6, South Boston 0 (Football)
October 7: Boston College High 7, Boston Latin 7 (Football)
October 12: Boston Trade School 7, Boston English 0 (Football)
October 12: Dorchester High 21, Mechanic Arts 0 (Football)
October 13: Hyde Park High 13, Brighton High 0 (Football)
October 13: Roxbury Memorial 7, South Boston High 0 (Football)
October 14: Jamaica Plain High 20, Charlestown High 0 (Football)
October 14: East Boston High 0, High School of Commerce 0 (Football)
October 21: Boston English 6, Roxbury Memorial 0 (Football)
October 21: Dorchester 6, Trade School 0 (Football)
October 25: Boston Latin 16, High School of Commerce 7 (Football)
October 25: Hyde Park High 6, Charlestown High 0 (Football)
October 28: Boston English 7, Charlestown High 0 (Football)
October 28: Roxbury Memorial 0, Jamaica Plain High 0 (Football)
October 31: Hyde Park High 27, South Boston High 0 (Football)
October 31: East Boston High 13, Charlestown High 0 (Football)
November 1: Boston Trade 7, Boston Latin 2 (Football)
November 1: Brighton High 0, Roxbury Memorial High 0 (Football)
November 2: Jamaica Plain 19, Dorchester High 0 (Football)
November 2: High School of Commerce 19, Mechanic Arts 0 (Football)
November 4: Boston English 12, Boston College High 0 (Football)
November 9: High School of Commerce 6, Boston Trade 0 (Football)
November 11: Boston Latin 7, Dorchester High 0 (Football)
November 11: Boston English 19, Mechanical Arts 0 (Football)
November 14: Hyde Park High 0, East Boston High 0 (Football)
November 15: Roxbury Memorial High 6, Dorchester High 0 (Football)
November 16: Boston Latin 33, Mechanical Arts 0 (Football)
November 16: Charlestown High 0, Brighton High 0 (Football)
November 17: High School of Commerce 7, Boston English 6 (Football)
November 21: Boston Trade School 7, Mechanical Arts 6 (Football)
November 22: South Boston High 0, East Boston High 0 (Football)
November 24: Boston Latin 18, Boston English 7 (Football)
November 24: High School of Commerce 12, Dorchester High 0 (Football)
November 27: Providence Steamrollers 3, Pere Marquette 0 (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.
In 1933, Tom Yawkey purchased the Red Sox and brought with him the much needed capital to turn the ballclub around. Though the team's record in 1933 didn't show it, Yawkey and his general manager, Eddie Collins, immediately began to reshape the team and by the end of December 1933, there were no Red Sox players left from the 1931 Opening Day roster. Following the Red Sox season, the Boston Redskins began playing their home football games at Fenway Park and Yawkey began a massive reconstruction of the ballpark, which dramatically upgraded Fenway Park for the start of the 1934 season.
Record: 63-86, 7th in American League
Manager: Martin J. McManus
In February 1933, Tom Yawkey bought the Red Sox from the financially-strapped Bob Quinn for a reported $1,500,000. Having just turned 30, Yawkey began making plans to build a winning ballclub. However, before the season, those plans nearly came to a halt. On April 2, 1933, the team came close to being wiped out in a deadly nighttime train wreck. No players were seriously injured but the train's engineer and fireman were killed.
Having survived the near-death experience, the 1933 Red Sox began their Fenway Park season on April 8 with their annual exhibition game against the Braves, followed two days later by a 9-2 tune-up victory over Boston College.
On April 20, Yawkey formally took control of the team and named Eddie Collins General Manager. The two began to rebuild the club but even they could not fix the team overnight. Boston finished seventh in the American League with a 63-86 record and only one Red Sox pitcher, Gordon Rhodes, won more than nine games.
However, there was progress for the club on a series of fronts. In May, the Red Sox sent the Yankees $100,000 to buy pitcher George Pipgras (a 24-game winner in 1928) and infielder Billy Werber. In June, the Red Sox won four games in a row against visiting New York and, as the story goes, Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert was so incensed that he called the mortgage that he'd held on Fenway Park since 1920. Yawkey paid the amount in full the following day.
On December 12, the only two remaining members from the 1931 Red Sox squad, Bob Kline and Rabbit Warstler, were sent to the Athletics (along with $125,000) to acquire Lefty Grove, Max Bishop, and Rube Walberg. The Red Sox also bought a Reading, Pennsylvania team in the New York-Penn League, the first step in the building of a modern farm system.
After purchasing the Boston Red Sox in February, new Owner Tom Yawkey wasted little time putting his mark on Fenway Park in 1933. In late July, the team installed a buffet lunch area offering beer and sandwiches to writers in the press room.
After the 1933 baseball season ended, Yawkey undertook even grander plans and started one of the most ambitious renovation campaigns in Fenway Park's history. The 10-foot incline known as Duffy's Cliff was leveled to make room for a more substantial wall to replace the 25-foot high left-field fence that had been above the embankment. Yawkey also began to replace the two wooden bleacher seating areas in right and center field with remodeled steel and concrete sections. Several other areas of the ballpark (including concession areas, employee rooms, the press box, and the entrance to the team's offices on Jersey Street) were remodeled or introduced as part of this massive construction project. By the end of 1933, the facelift of Fenway Park was humming along at furious pace.
In August 1933, Fenway Park hosted four non-Red Sox baseball games. In early August, a pair of American Legion playoff games was played at the park and a Boston Park League doubleheader was played at Fenway Park at the end of the month.
1933 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park
August 5: New Bedford 6, Springfield 2 (Junior American Legion Semi-Final)
August 10: New Bedford 5, Lowell 4 (American Legion State Final)
August 31: Ivy Cubs of Roxbury 4, Savin Hill Pirates 0
August 31: Tuskaroras Cubs (Roslindale) 4, Savin Hill All-Stars 3
The Boston Redskins played their first of four seasons at Fenway Park in 1933. That year, they won four of their six home games en route to a 5-5-2 record for the season. Several amateur football games were also played at the park during the fall months of 1933.
1933 Non-Baseball Events At Fenway Park
August 9: Ed Don George Defeats the Black Secret (Wrestling)
October 3: Boston English 12, East Boston 0 (Football)
October 3: High School of Commerce 14, Charlestown 0 (Football)
October 4: Memorial High of Roxbury 6, Jamaica Plain High 0 (Football)
October 4: Brighton High 0, South Boston 0 (Football)
October 8: Boston Redskins 21, New York Giants 10 (Football)
October 10: Hyde Park High 8, Memorial High 7 (Football)
October 10: South Boston High 15, Charlestown 0 (Football)
October 11: Brighton High 7, Jamaica Plain High 0 (Football)
October 11: East Boston High 0, High School of Commerce 0 (Football)
October 12: Boston English 19, Boston Trade 0 (Football)
October 12: Mechanical Arts 6, Dorchester High 0 (Football)
October 15: Portsmouth Spartans 13, Boston Redskins 0 (Football)
October 17: Brighton High 12, East Boston High 6 (Football)
October 17: Memorial High 13, Charleston High 0 (Football)
October 18: Mechanic Arts 6, Jamaica Plain High 0 (Football)
October 18: South Boston High 7, Dorchester High 0 (Football)
October 20: Hyde Park High 15, Boston Trade 7 (Football)
October 22: Boston Redskins 10, Chicago Cardinals 0 (Football)
October 23: Brighton High 7, Mechanical Arts 6 (Football)
October 25: Dorchester High 13, Memorial High 0 (Football)
October 26: East Boston High 13, Charlestown 0 (Football)
October 27: Boston College High 7, Boston Latin 6 (Football)
October 29: Pittsburgh Pirates 16, Boston Redskins 14 (Football)
October 30: Hyde Park High 14, Brighton High 6 (Football)
October 30: South Boston High 13, Memorial High 0 (Football)
November 1: Mechanical Arts 14, High School of Commerce 2 (Football)
November 2: Boston Latin 7, Boston Trade 0 (Football)
November 3: Boston College High 14, Boston English 13 (Football)
November 5: Boston Redskins 10, Chicago Bears 0 (Football)
November 7: Memorial High 0, East Boston High 0 (Football)
November 9: Boston Trade 9, High School of Commerce 0 (Football)
November 10: Jamaica Plain High 33, Charleston High 0 (Football)
November 11: Boston English 13, Mechanical Arts 0 (Football)
November 12: Pere Marquette 0, Fitton A.C. 0 (Football)
November 13: Memorial High 9, Boston Trade 6 (Football)
November 14: Jamaica Plain High 12, South Boston High 6 (Football)
November 15: Hyde Park High 13, East Boston High 6 (Football)
November 17: Boston English 13, Dorchester 0 (Football)
November 19: Boston Redskins 20, Green Bay Packers 7 (Football)
November 20: Brighton High 27, Charlestown 0 (Football)
November 21: Jamaica Plain High 0, Hyde Park High 0 (Football)
November 22: Boston English 6, High School of Commerce 0 (Football)
November 23: Boston Latin 21, Mechanical Arts 7 (Football)
November 24: Boston Trade 7, Dorchester High 6 (Football)
November 26: Fitton A.C. 13, Pere Marquette 12 (Football)
November 27: South Boston High 0, East Boston High 0 (Football)
November 28: Mechanical Arts 20, Boston Trade 6 (Football)
November 30: Boston English 20, Boston Latin 7 (Football)
November 30: Dorchester High 6, High School of Commerce 0 (Football)
October 8, 1933
In Their First Game at Fenway Park, Boston Redskins Defeat New York Giants, 21-10
In their first game at Fenway Park, the Boston red Sox defeated the New York Giants before 15,000 fans. The victory was marked by a Turk Edwards block of Harry Newman's point-after attempt following a Giants third-quarter touchdown. The game was also the Redskins' first under their new name, having played as the Boston Braves at Braves Field during the 1932 season, which was their first in the National Football League.
The New Right-Field Pavilion Section In 1934 (Credit: The Brearley Collection)
The 1934 Boston Red Sox (Credit: Boston Red Sox)
In the first week of 1934, Fenway Park's ambitious reconstruction suffered a dramatic setback when a five-hour fire burnt down parts of the newly-constructed left-field grandstand and center-field bleachers. Owner Tom Yawkey persevered and employed union labor to have a dramatically-upgraded Fenway Park ready for Opening Day 1934. With several new players, the Red Sox also improved and finished with their first non-losing season since the team's World Series championship in 1918. In the fall, the Boston Redskins had a successful Fenway Park season too, winning four of seven games at home during a busy autumn of football for the ballpark.
Record: 76-76, 4th in American League
Manager: Stanley R. (Bucky) Harris
In the first full year of Yawkey ownership, the Red Sox reconstructed their roster and their ballpark. Having undergone a dramatic makeover during the offseason, the remodeled Fenway Park was unveiled to the general public in the annual exhibition game between the Red Sox and Braves on April 14, 1934, before officially opening three days later.
In 1934, Fenway Park was also home to many new players and a new manager, Bucky Harris. Among just the pitching staff, General Manager Eddie Collins had recently added Lefty Grove, Wes Ferrell, Rube Walberg, Fritz Ostermueller, and Herb Pennock, who returned to the Red Sox after 11 years with the Yankees. The new arms helped the team reach .500 for the first time since 1918.
Unfortunately, Grove was diagnosed with a sore arm before the season began and though Connie Mack offered to take him back, the Red Sox elected to keep him. Grove was 8-8 in 1934, but bounced back to win 20 games in 1935. Ferrell led the team in victories in 1934 with a 14-5 record and 3.63 ERA, despite not pitching until May 30.
Roy Johnson and Billy Werber were the stars on offense. Johnson drove in 119 runs and batted .320, while Werber hit .321 with 11 home runs. The Red Sox also posted their first positive run differential since 1919, scoring 820 and allowing 775.
Yawkey was pleased with the results of his second season but he wasn't done yet. Before October was over, he acquired Washington player/manager Joe Cronin for $225,000 and shortstop Lyn Lary. By the end of 1934, Yawkey's total expenditure on the Red Sox (including Fenway Park renovations) already totaled around $3,000,000 and his investments generated enthusiasm with attendance leaping from 268,715 in 1933 to 610,640 in 1934, including a packed house for Babe Ruth's final game at Fenway Park on August 12, 1934.
The Red Sox and Braves City Series Games
In the first half of the 20th Century, the Red Sox and Braves (who were briefly renamed the Boston Bees in the late 1930s) frequently played exhibition games against each other in what was dubbed the "City Series". These games were always played in early to mid-April as a way to kick off the baseball season in Boston. Over the years, the games also saw the debut of certain Fenway Park legends, including Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, and Joe Cronin. While the Red Sox and Braves/Bees franchise played pretty evenly at Fenway Park in the earliest years of the series, the Red Sox dominated the late 1940s and the first few years of the 1950s, going unbeaten in their last 11 Fenway Park games against their Boston counterparts, before the Braves moved to Milwaukee following the 1952 season.
City Series Games at Fenway Park
April 9, 1926: Red Sox 6, Braves 1
April 8, 1927: Red Sox 13, Braves 2
April 9, 1927: Braves 6, Red Sox 5
April 12, 1930: Braves 4, Red Sox 3 (11 Innings)
April 11, 1931: Red Sox 7, Braves 3
April 9, 1932: Braves 2, Red Sox 1
April 8, 1933: Red Sox 7, Braves 0
April 14, 1934: Red Sox 8, Braves 2 (Fenway Park's first game after its 1933-34 reconstruction)
April 14, 1935: Braves 3, Red Sox (Joe Cronin's Fenway Park debut)
April 12, 1936: Bees 8, Red Sox 4
April 18, 1937: Red Sox 10, Bees 8 (Bobby Doerr's Fenway Park debut)
April 16, 1938: Bees 6, Red Sox 2
April 16, 1939: Red Sox 1, Bees 0 (Ted Williams' Fenway Park debut)
April 14, 1940: Bees 7, Red Sox 3
April 13, 1941: Braves 10, Red Sox 3
April 12, 1942: Braves 7, Red Sox 5
April 18, 1943: Red Sox 5, Braves 3
April 19, 1943: Braves 6, Red Sox 1 (10 innings)
April 15, 1944: Red Sox 3, Braves 2
April 15, 1945: Red Sox 6, Braves 5
April 12, 1946: Red Sox 11, Braves 5
April 13, 1946: Braves 7, Red Sox 3
April 14, 1946: Red Sox 19, Braves 6
April 13, 1947: Braves 7, Red Sox 7 (16 innings) (Tie)
April 17, 1948: Red Sox 2, Braves 1
April 18, 1948: Red Sox 2, Braves 1
April 16, 1949: Red Sox 5, Braves 2
April 17, 1949: Red Sox 4, Braves 3
April 18, 1949: Red Sox 6, Braves 2
April 16, 1950: Red Sox 3, Braves 1
April 15, 1951: Red Sox 6, Braves 3
April 12, 1952: Red Sox 12, Braves 7
April 13, 1952: Red Sox 2, Braves 1
Just five days into the 1934 calendar year, a raging inferno interrupted Tom Yawkey's ambitious offseason renovation of Fenway Park. Though steel and concrete stands had been added throughout the ballpark during the winter months of 1933, wooden forms remaining underneath the bleachers provided the kindling for a ferocious, five-hour blaze that quickly spread to surrounding buildings. When the flames were extinguished, the new seating areas down the left-field line and in the center-field bleachers had been destroyed. Though only a portion of the damage was covered by insurance, an undaunted Yawkey redoubled the team's construction efforts, pledging to have the park ready by Opening Day. With a greatly-augmented workforce, the club quickly re-started construction and completed the massive reconstruction on time.
When Fenway Park opened to the general public in April 1934, it contained over 7,000 new seats and had a dramatically-altered look. In place of the 10-foot embankment known as Duffy's Cliff and the 25-foot high fence above it, the new left-field wall stood 37-feet high and featured the first electronically-operated scoreboard in baseball. The grandstand was extended down the left-field line, replacing the space once occupied by the wooden bleachers that had burnt down in 1926.
Yawkey also renovated the right-field seating area, creating a pavilion with bench seating. He also added new seats near the field, moving home plate forward in the process. The renovations to the park reduced home run distances to all fields (from 320 feet to 312 in left; 468 feet to 420 in center; and 358 feet to 334 in right) and the distance to the backstop was shortened from 68 feet to 60. The ballpark also received a "Dartmouth Green" paint job throughout, taking on the characteristic color that it is known for today.
On April 17, 1934, an Opening Day crowd of nearly 33,000 packed into the reconstructed Fenway Park. Yawkey had spent over a million Depression-era dollars to transform Fenway Park and he was widely praised in Boston because his work had been performed by union labor. Fenway Park's reconstruction was the second largest contracting project after the Mystic-Tobin Bridge in Depression-era Boston.
On June 30, 1934, the All-Boston Interscholastic team beat its All-Springfield counterpart in a 5-4, 10-inning battle at Fenway Park. The following month, a field day drew 11,000 young people who competed in fungo hitting, throwing and base running competitions.
1934 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park
June 30A: ll-Boston Interscholastic Team 5, All-Springfield Interscholastic Team 4 (10 Innings)
July 5: Youth Field Day
On June 11, 1934, a golden jubilee celebrating Cardinal William O'Connell's career brought 40,000 patrons to Fenway Park. In July, a wrestling match between Ed Don George and Jimmy Londos had a starting time of 11 PM, one of the latest scheduled starts of any event in Fenway Park's history.
1934 Non-Baseball Events At Fenway Park
May 20War Memorial Service*
June 11Golden Jubilee Celebrating Cardinal William O'Connell's Career
July 18Wrestlers Ed Don George and Jimmy Londos Wrestle to a Draw
October 2Jamaica Plain High 13, Mechanical Arts 0 (Football)
October 3Boston English 13, South Boston High 0 (Football)
October 3High School of Commerce 7, Brighton High 6 (Football)
October 4Roxbury Memorial 0, South Boston High 0 (Football)
October 4Boston College High 0, Dorchester High 0 (Football)
October 7New York Giants 16, Boston Redskins 13 (Football)
October 10Brighton High 6, Roxbury Memorial High 0 (Football)
October 10South Boston High 22, Charlestown High 0 (Football)
October 11Jamaica Plain High 6, High School of Commerce 0 (Football)
October 11Boston College High 0, Boston Latin 0 (Football)
October 12Dorchester High 7, Mechanical Arts 6 (Football)
October 14Boston Redskins 39, Pittsburgh Pirates 0 (Football)
October 16South Boston High 7, Roxbury Memorial 6 (Football)
October 16Jamaica Plain High 14, Charlestown High 0 (Football)
October 17Boston Latin 6, Mechanical Arts 0 (Football)
October 18East Boston High 19, Brighton High 6 (Football)
October 21Boston Redskins 6, Philadelphia Eagles 0 (Football)
October 24Hyde Park High 12, South Boston High 0 (Football)
October 25Brighton High 7, Boston Trade 0 (Football)
October 25East Boston High 13, Charlestown 0 (Football)
October 26Boston English 19, Boston College High 0 (Football)
October 26High School of Commerce 6, Mechanical Arts 0 (Football)
October 28Boston Redskins 9, Chicago Cardinals 0 (Football)
October 30East Boston High 6, Jamaica Plain High 0 (Football)
October 31South Boston High 6, Brighton High 0 (Football)
November 1High School of Commerce 19, Boston College High 6 (Football)
November 2Boston English 19, Dorchester High 0 (Football)
November 4Green Bay Packers 10, Boston Redskins 0 (Football)
November 5South Boston High 19, Mechanical Arts 2 (Football)
November 7Boston Latin 7, High School of Commerce 6 (Football)
November 8Hyde Park High 19, Brighton High 7 (Football)
November 9Boston Trade 19, Charlestown High 0 (Football)
November 11Chicago Bears 21, Boston Redskins 0 (Football)
November 13Boston English 9, Mechanical Arts 0 (Football)
November 14Boston Latin 19, Dorchester High 0 (Football)
November 14Brighton High 18, Charlestown 0 (Football)
November 15High School of Commerce 19, Boston Trade 0 (Football)
November 16Hyde Park High 6, East Boston High 0 (Football)
November 20Jamaica Plain High 0, Brighton High 0 (Football)
November 21Boston Latin 24, Boston Trade 6 (Football)
November 22Boston English 15, High School of Commerce 6 (Football)
November 23Charlestown High 7, Roxbury Memorial 6 (Football)
November 26Jamaica Plan High 6, Hyde Park High 0 (Football)
November 27East Boston High 6, South Boston High 0 (Football)
November 27Boston Trade 0, Mechanical Arts 0 (Football)
November 28Boston College High 6, Roxbury Memorial 0 (Football)
November 29Boston Latin 13, Boston English 12 (Football)
December 2Boston Redskins 13, Brooklyn Dodgers 3 (Football)
With Owner Tom Yawkey's spending temporarily halted, the 1935 Red Sox finished with their first winning record in 17 years. Despite the stronger performance of the team, Fenway Park attendance paradoxically dropped off a bit from the previous year, though the ballpark did attract a crowd of nearly 48,000 fans for a late September doubleheader against the Yankees. Fenway also hosted a bevy of non-Red Sox events, including wrestling and Boston Redskins home football games.
Compared to the frenzied pace of renovations following the 1933 season, the next few winters at Fenway Park were relatively tame. Still, the final months of the 1935 calendar year did see a series of minor adjustments: augmentations to the grandstands costing the team a few thousand dollars; new entrances, monetary exchange booths, water bubblers and bathrooms; and various furniture and equipment additions to the team offices.
Record: 78-75, 4th in American League
Manager: Joseph E. Cronin
On February 8, 1935, Owner Tom Yawkey announced that his spending to acquire ballplayers was over. Though Yawkey's spending would resume after the 1935 season, he had already acquired the services of Joe Cronin, Rick Ferrell, Wes Ferrell, Lefty Grove, Fred Ostermueller, George Pipgras, Rube Walberg and Bill Werber, among others.
Grove returned to form in 1935 and went 20-12 with a 2.70 ERA, while Wes Ferrell won 25 games and posted a 3.52 ERA. The latter was also quite adept with the bat, hitting .347 with seven homers, while his brother and frequent battery mate, Rick, hit .301. Wes was occasionally used as a pinch-hitter and on July 21 he hit a game-winning home run. The next day, he started on the mound and hit another home run to support his own cause in a 12-1 victory (the next time the Red Sox won back-to-back games via the home run was in May 2005). Cronin made his debut as Red Sox player/manager in the 1935 preseason exhibition game against the Braves, and went on to hit .295 with a team-leading 95 RBIs.
The 1935 Red Sox won more games than they lost and were never more than two games below .500 or eight games above. Still, some of the excitement of a new ballpark and team waned a bit and attendance fell by 10 percent. On September 22, however, some 47,627 turned out for a doubleheader with the Yankees, including 5,000 roped off on the field. It remains the largest baseball crowd in Fenway Park history. Far fewer saw a game-ending triple play at Fenway on September 7 that began with a ricochet off Cleveland third baseman Odell Hale's head.
Over the course of four June days in 1935, eight Massachusetts high school baseball teams competed at Fenway Park, with Somerville High emerging as champion of the interscholastic tournament by beating Lowell High on June 15. Four days later, a team of Republican legislators from the Massachusetts House of Representatives defeated a team of their Democratic counterparts in a six-inning game. According to an article in The Boston Globe, "the losers demanded a recount, moved reconsideration, rose to sundry points of order and offered to postpone sine die, but the lopsided score still remained." Two more teams of rivals faced off against each other on July 9, 1935, when New York Policemen and Firemen visited Fenway Park to play Boston Policemen and Firemen. After three innings, the game was called due to rain with New York leading, 3-2. Towards the end of the Red Sox season, another interesting matchup pitted Boston baseball writers against the Fenway Park Front Office. This game also lasted only three innings and again, the home team didn't fare well.
1935 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park
June 12Lowell High 2, Mission High of Roxbury 1
June 12St. Mary's of Milford 8, Framingham 7
June 13Somerville High 7, St. Joseph's of Pittsfield 6
June 13Holyoke 6, Taunton 3
June 14Lowell High 9, St. Mary's of Milford 8
June 14Somerville High 10, Holyoke 4
June 15Somerville High 20, Lowell High 8
June 19House Republicans 10, House Democrats 6 (Six Innings)
July 9New York Policemen & Firemen 3, Boston Policemen & Firemen 2 (Three Innings - Called Due To Rain)
September 23Boston Baseball Writers 16, Fenway Park Front Office 3 (Three Innings)
On July 9, 1935, the Boston Department of Public Welfare hosted a summer carnival at Fenway Park. Also in 1935, several football games and a pair of wrestling matches, both of which were won by local favorite Dan O'Mahoney, took place at the ballpark. On the gridiron, the Boston Redskins won their first and last home games of the 1935 season at Fenway Park, but lost the other five in between.
1935 Non-Baseball Events At Fenway Park
May 12War Memorial Service*
June 27Dan O'Mahoney Defeats Jim Londos (Wrestling)
July 9Boston Department of Public Welfare Athletic and Musical Carnival
September 11Dan O'Mahoney Pins Ed Don George (Wrestling)
September 29Boston Redskins 7, Brooklyn Dodgers 3 (Football)
October 6New York Giants 20, Boston Redskins 12 (Football)
October 13Detroit Lions 17, Boston Redskins 7 (Football)
October 16Dorchester High 13, Mechanic Arts 7 (Football)
October 16Charlestown High 0, Jamaica Plain High 0 (Football)
October 17Boston Latin 19, Roxbury Memorial High School 0 (Football)
October 17East Boston High 7, Brighton High 0 (Football)
October 18Hyde Park High 0, South Boston High 0 (Football)
October 18High School of Commerce 8, Boston Trade 0 (Football)
October 23Roxbury Memorial 13, Brighton High 6 (Football)
October 23South Boston High 10, Charlestown 6 (Football)
October 24High School of Commerce 7, Mechanic Arts 0 (Football)
October 24Dorchester High 12, Boston Trade 0 (Football)
October 29Roxbury Memorial 6, Boston Trade 0 (Football)
October 29South Boston High 14, Brighton High 0 (Football)
November 3Philadelphia Eagles 7, Boston Redskins 6 (Football)
November 9Rutgers 12, Boston University 6 (Football)
November 10Chicago Bears 30, Boston Redskins 14 (Football)
November 24Chicago Cardinals 6, Boston Redskins 0 (Football)
December 1Boston Redskins 13, Pittsburgh Pirates 3 (Football)
June 27, 1935
Dan O'Mahoney Defeats Jim Londos At Fenway Park
Long before the mainstream wrestling on television, wrestling was a popular sport in Boston. Matches were held regularly at the Boston Garden, Braves Field and Fenway Park. In the greatest wrestling match ever held at Fenway Park, some 30,000 filled the stands to watch local favorite Dan O'Mahoney, a former soldier in the Irish Free State Army, pin the great Jim Londos after an hour and 16 minutes of what the Boston Post described as "rugged grappling."
In a firsthand Boston Post exclusive O'Mahoney wrote:
"I hardly know what to say. I have just called my father on long distance telephone in Ballydehob, Ireland, and you should have heard the cheering when I told him I had beaten Jim Londos, whom my father regarded as the world's greatest wrestler. The whole village must have been assembled at the farm judging by the noise that came over the 'phone." (Boston Post, June 28, 1935)
Though the first few years of the Yawkey era brought significant on-field improvement, the Red Sox took a step backwards in 1936 and the club fell below .500 for the first time in three years. However the seeds of future success were planted in 1936 when the club signed two youngsters named Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr. Before the season, a net was hung above the left-field wall to protect people and property on adjacent Lansdowne Street and in the fall, the Redskins enjoyed a successful final season in Boston.
Record: 74-80, 6th in American League
Manager: Joseph E. Cronin
The Philadelphia Athletics continued to offer talent to the Red Sox in the same way that Boston had assisted the Yankees in the 1920s. In December 1935, the Red Sox picked up slugger Jimmie Foxx and right-hander Johnny Marcum in exchange for $150,000 and a pair of lesser players. By the end of 1936, Pinky Higgins became the 10th player to come to the Red Sox from the Athletics since the end of the 1933 season.
The turnover of Boston's roster was so complete that by July 2, 1936, every regular on the team, as well the entire coaching staff, had come from another team. For the first time in the 20th century, not one Red Sox player was homegrown. Looking to find talent on their own, General Manager Eddie Collins began scouting younger ballplayers that Boston could develop, signing two prospects named Bob Doerr and Ted Williams during a trip to the West Coast in 1936.
Foxx met every expectation and batted .338, collecting a then-franchise record 41 home runs and 143 RBIs, while walking over 100 times and posting a .440 OBP. However, the team's overall hitting wasn't good and though Foxx helped the Red Sox score more runs than the year before, they still ranked second to last in the league with 775 runs scored.
Wes Ferrell won 20 games and Lefty Grove won 17 but no other pitcher won more than 10 games in 1936. Ferrell left the team without permission at least twice and was suspended for the season on August 21 after walking off the field and leaving the park. Though Ferrell insisted there had been a misunderstanding and was ultimately reinstated, 1936 would be Ferrell's last full season in Boston.
One of the bigger changes at Fenway Park in 1936 was that beer was available once again. Even though prohibition was repealed with the December 1933 ratification of the 21st Amendment, the amendment left primary control of setting liquor laws in the hands of the individual states and it had taken a while for state and local officials to set regulations and issue licenses. But by 1936, a patron could once again buy a glass of beer at Boston's ballparks.
In 1936, with the prevalence of home runs increasing, a 23-foot high net was added above the left-field wall to protect pedestrians and property on Lansdowne Street. To retrieve balls hit into the net, a ladder was attached vertically to the top portion of the wall. Located about a third of the way from the left-field foul pole to the center-field bleachers, the ladder stopped 13 feet above the ground and a portable ladder was used to reach it. In 2003, when the Green Monster Seats were added and the net taken down, the use of the ladder became obsolete. However, the ladder remains to this day as one of Fenway Park's quirks and the fixture on the famous wall, which is considered part of fair territory, has caused many interesting plays over the years.
In 1936, Fenway Park continued to host a plethora of non-Red Sox baseball games, including the Massachusetts high school state title game in June and a series of local league games in July.
1936 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park
June 16Somerville High 10, Milford High 2
June 16Lowell High 6, Watertown High 2
June 17Somerville High 9, Lowell High 8
June 20Templeton High 2, Somerville High 1 (MA State Title Game)
July 27Cottage Court (Waltham) 6, Dorrance A. C. (Worcester) 1
July 27Clarmac A. A. (Franklin) 5, Canton A. A. 2
July 28Miller Oil (Waltham) 12, Newton Independents 5
July 28Baysides (Hull) 11, Smart Oil (Waltham) 6
July 29Firestones (New Bedford) 5, Boston All-Start 2 (Eight Innings)
July 29Hall All-Stars (Somerville) 2, Casey Paper Company (Haverhill) 2 (Tie)
July 30Currans Express (Milford) 15, St. Therese Baseball Club (Everett) 0
July 30Norwood Press 10, Muldoons (Brighton) 5
In their final season in Boston, the Redskins went 4-3 at Fenway Park before Redskins owner George Preston Marshall moved the team to Washington, D.C. in 1937. While the Redskins played their last season at Fenway Park, Boston College football returned the park for the first time since 1931.
1936 Non-Baseball Events At Fenway Park
May 17War Memorial Service*
June 25Jack Sharkey Defeats Phil Brubaker in 10-Round Match (Boxing)
October 4New York Giants 7, Boston Redskins 0 (Football)
October 12Temple 14, Boston College 0 (Football)
October 17Boston University 6, Washington University 0 (Football)
October 18Boston Redskins 17, Philadelphia Eagles 7 (Football)
October 31Boston College 13, Michigan State 13 (Football)
November 1Boston Redskins 13, Chicago Cardinals 10 (Football)
November 7Boston College 7, North Carolina State 3 (Football)
November 8Green Bay Packers 7, Boston Redskins 3 (Football)
November 15Chicago Bears 26, Boston Redskins 0 (Football)
November 22Boston Redskins 30, Brooklyn Dodgers 6 (Football)
November 28Boston College 13, Holy Cross 12 (Football)
November 29Boston Redskins 30, Pittsburgh Steelers 0 (Football)
November 29, 1936
Redskins Near East Title, Beat Pittsburgh 30-0
In the Redskins' final game at Fenway Park before moving to Washington, D.C., Ray Flaherty's men inched closer to clinching a spot in the NFL championship game with a thumping win over the Pittsburgh Pirates by a score of 30-0. However, only 4,000 braved the unseasonably bitter cold weather to attend what would be the last NFL game in Boston until the arrival of the Boston Yanks in 1944. Redskins owner George Preston Marshall not only moved his team to Washington, D.C. the next year, but also moved what would have been the first and only NFL championship game to be played at Fenway Park to the Polo Grounds in New York, where the Redskins lost to the Packers by a score of 21-6 on December 13, 1936.
Fans on Fenway Park's field (Credit: Leslie Jones Collection/Boston Public Library)
After the letdown of the previous year, the Red Sox rode a strong offense to an 80-72 record in 1937. Although the Red Sox record wasn't good enough to qualify for the postseason, Fenway Park was busy in other ways during the fall. The Boston Redskins had left town but Boston College, Boston University, Holy Cross and the AFL's Boston Shamrocks all played home football games at Fenway Park in 1937.
Record: 80-72, 5th in American League
Manager: Joseph E. Cronin
The 1937 Red Sox finished fifth in the American League and though they improved in a few offensive categories, they once again suffered from lackluster pitching. Lefty Grove won 17 games (17-9) with a 3.02 ERA and Jack Wilson, who had also come over from Philadelphia, went 16-10. Bobo Newsom and Johnny Marcum each won 13 but the team ERA rose to 4.48.
Jimmie Foxx drove in 127 runs and hit 36 home runs, while Joe Cronin and third baseman Pinky Higgins amassed 110 and 106 RBIs, respectively. The aforementioned Bobo Newsom joined the team in mid-June, along with right fielder Ben Chapman, in a trade from Washington. The Red Sox sent Mel Almada and the two Ferrell brothers, Rick and Wes, to the Senators in the deal. When asked for his feelings on Wes specifically, Cronin summed up his feelings, "I sure hated to lose Rick - good ball player, hard worker, easy to get along with."
There were some interesting personalities on the 1937 Red Sox, including Moe Berg, who worked for the U.S. Government as a World War II-era spy and had his best year as a backup in Boston. The "Pulverizing Pole," Fabian Gaffke, was a backup outfielder and the team's starting left fielder had the given name of Colonel Buster Mills.
Future Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr made his Fenway Park debut on April 18 in the annual City Series game against the Boston Braves. He played second base behind Boob McNair in 1937, hitting .224 in 55 games as a teenager. The team faded in the second half but showed potential that boded well for the future.
Though 1937 was a quiet year on the construction front, owner Tom Yawkey did make one important decision that altered the look of Fenway Park's playing field. While there had previously been a roped-off, on-field standing area in deep right and center field where fans had been able to watch the team play, Yawkey did away with this section and stopped permitting fans on the field during games.
Once again, Fenway Park hosted high school tournament baseball in 1937 with Lynn English beating Lowell High on June 11. In early August, a team of Fenway Park employees defeated a group of Boston baseball writers.
1937 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park
June 9Watertown High 8, Belmont High 0
June 9Lynn English 3, Medford High 1
June 10Lynn English 4, Watertown High 3 (14 Innings)
June 10Lowell High 12, Braintree High 2
June 11Lynn English 12, Lowell High 3
August 6Fenway Park Clubhouse Boys 3, Earache Alley Unit of the Boston Baseball Writers 2
Dan O'Mahoney returned to Fenway Park in 1937 to fight for the Celtic Wrestling Championship. However O'Mahoney lost to Steve "Crusher" Casey, who also won a match at Fenway the previous month. Later in the year, the Boston Shamrocks filled the professional football void left by the Boston Redskins' departure. The Shamrocks' home opener at Fenway Park on October 13 was played at night under temporary lighting, almost 10 years before the Red Sox played their first night game at home. In addition, Boston College and Boston University each played numerous games at Fenway in 1937, including a scoreless tie on Columbus Day between BC and Temple which marked Coach Pop Warner's 400th game.
1937 Non-Baseball Events At Fenway Park
June 6Mayo F.C. 17, Massachusetts All-Stars 8 (Gaelic Football)
June 17Al McCoy Defeats Natie Brown (Boxing)
June 29Steve Casey Tosses Ed Don George (Wrestling)
July 13Natie Brown Beats Tony Shucco (Boxing)
July 20Steve Casey Downs Dan O'Mahoney (Wrestling)
October 12Boston College 0, Temple 0 (Football)
October 13Los Angeles Bulldogs 14, Boston Shamrocks 0 (Football)
October 16Holy Cross 7, University of Georgia 6 (Football)
October 17Rochester Tigers 6, Boston Shamrocks 0 (Football)
October 23Western Reserve 7, Boston University 0 (Football)
October 24Boston Shamrocks 27, Pittsburgh Americans 7 (Football)
November 7Boston Shamrocks 50, Collegiate All-Stars 0 (Football)
November 11Villanova 12, Boston University 0 (Football)
November 13Boston College 13, Kentucky 0 (Football)
November 20Boston University 13, Boston College 13 (Football)
November 27Holy Cross 20, Boston College 0 (Football)
October 13, 1937
Los Angeles Bulldogs Top Boston Shamrocks, 14-0
In a rare night game at Fenway Park (temporary lighting had to be brought to the park) the American Professional League's Boston Shamrocks finally played their season home opener on an evening they were assured was free of competition from the World Series or college football. Members of the media speculated the Shamrocks' night game was nothing less than a referendum on whether Boston could support pro football in the wake of the Redskins' recent departure.
Thanks in large part to Jimmie Foxx's season for the ages, the Red Sox finished 27 games above .500 in 1938 but still fell short of their first pennant since 1918. In the fall, the Boston Shamrocks played a few games at Fenway Park but soon went out of business. Local collegiate teams fared better and Boston College's football team went 4-1 at the Fenway Park in 1938.
On May 10, 1938, before the Red Sox played the Indians, the Harvard baseball team took the Fenway Park field against a group of out-of-town firemen. However, the game was postponed just before the first inning due to rain. Later that year, on August 1, Fenway Park hosted three three-inning games featuring teams from the Boston Police Department, Boston Fire Department, Boston City Hall, and the Massachusetts State House. The Boston Fire Department edged the Boston Police in one of the games and the team from City Hall, with Boston Mayor Maurice Tobin dressed in Red Sox uniform, defeated the State House in another.
1938 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park
May 10Out-of Town Firemen vs. Harvard Varsity Team Postponed
August 1West Division/Police Department 4, East Division/Police Department 3 (Three Innings)
August 1Boston Fire Department 5, Boston Police Department 2 (Three Innings)
August 1Boston City Hall Team 7, State House Team 3 (Three Innings)
Record: 88-61, 2nd in American League
Manager: Joseph E. Cronin
A brash California kid named Ted Williams thought he would make the ballclub in 1938 but Joe Cronin shipped the youngster to the Minneapolis Millers for a year of seasoning. On leaving big-league camp, Williams declared to one of the remaining outfielders, "I'll be back, and I'll be making more money than the three of you put together." Williams went on to win the 1938 American Association Triple Crown.
In the majors, Jimmie Foxx almost won the American League Triple Crown in 1938. He ranked first in the league with 175 RBIs, led the league in batting average with a .349 mark, and his 50 home runs trailed only Hank Greenberg's 58. Foxx held the franchise's single-season home run record until David Ortiz hit 54 in 2006 and his RBI total from the 1938 season is still the franchise record (104 of them were collected at Fenway Park). With 19 of 22 first-place votes, Foxx was named MVP for the third time in seven years.
Joe Vosmik's 201 hits for the Red Sox led the league and Doc Cramer came in second with 198. It's the only time Red Sox batters have finished 1-2 in that category. As a team, the Red Sox batted .299 with Cramer, Foxx, and Vosmik each scoring over 100 runs.
The Red Sox ended the season 9 1/2 games behind the Yankees but their second place finish in the league was their best since 1918.
The Boston Shamrocks played a pair of games at Fenway Park in 1938, losing to a team of collegiate stars in the second annual College All-Star Game in Boston before a defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates (the football version), whose roster included future Supreme Court Justice Byron "Whizzer" White. Unfortunately, the Shamrocks soon went out of business but Boston College and Boston University's football teams would also take the Fenway field often in 1938; BC went 4-1 at the ballpark, while BU went 2-2.
1938 Non-Baseball Events At Fenway Park
July 26Steve Casey Retains Championship Over Richard Shikat (Wrestling)
August 1Mayor's Field Day Benefit for Special Welfare Fund*
September 14College All-Stars 7, Boston Shamrocks 6 (Football)
September 26Pittsburgh Pirates 16, Boston Shamrocks 6 (Football)
October 8Boston University 19, St. Lawrence University 14 (Football)
October 12Boston College 9, University of Detroit 6 (Football)
October 15Boston University 25, Upsala College 0 (Football)
October 29Boston College 33, University of Florida 0 (Football)
November 5Boston College 14, University of Indiana 0 (Football)
November 11Boston College 21, Boston University 14 (Football)
November 19Villanova 39, Boston University 6 (Football)
November 26Holy Cross 29, Boston College 7 (Football)
*For many years, the City of Boston regularly held a summertime Mayor's Charity Field Day. Many of these field days took place at Fenway Park, with a variety of sports, games, activities and other amusements for the crowds. In certain years, the Mayor's Charity Field Day even included an abbreviated baseball game at Fenway Park that was usually played between local teams.
Doc Cramer, Ted Williams and Jimmie Foxx at Fenway Park in 1939 (Credit: Boston Red Sox)
Former Red Sox Harry Hooper, Tris Speaker and Duffy Lewis at Fenway Park to celebrate the Baseball Centennial (Credit: Leslie Jones Collection/Boston Public Library)
Ted Williams burst onto the Fenway Park scene and immediately made an impact in 1939, setting several MLB and Red Sox rookie records. While the team finished second again, the future certainly looked bright with Williams' arrival and more talent was on the way. The ballpark also welcomed an Old-Timers' Game in honor of baseball's centennial, while Boston College's football team went 5-1 in their Fenway Park home games.
Record: 89-62, 2nd in American League
Manager: Joseph E. Cronin
In 1939, Ted Williams broke into the league with a bang. He made his Fenway Park debut on April 16, 1939 in the annual City Series game against the Braves and never looked back. More than 70 years later, "The Kid" still holds the Major League Baseball rookie records for RBIs (145) and walks (107), the American League rookie record for slugging percentage (.609), and Red Sox rookie records for extra-base hits (86) and runs scored (131).
Williams manned right field as a rookie and was seen as a bit of a character, often practicing his batting stance while playing the outfield. He would also playfully lift his cap up by the button on top, saluting the fans.
On May 9, the Red Sox made history by becoming the first club to travel by air, chartering airplanes to fly from St. Louis to Chicago.
With an 89-62 record, the Red Sox finished in second place again. The Red Sox had the highest team batting average in the AL but their team ERA was 4.56, only fifth best in the league.
Williams led the team in RBIs, with Cronin and Foxx also topping the century mark, and Foxx led the team with a .360 average. Lefty Grove went 15-4, while Jack Wilson, Fritz Ostermueller, and Joe Heving each won 11.
In 1939, a canvas curtain was designed and hung along the back of the third base grandstand seating section in order to shield all-star first baseman Jimmie Foxx from the sun's glare. Home plate had been oriented in 1912 to keep the sun out of the batter's eye, but posed challenges to fielders on the right side of the field as it set. Even though the façade behind home plate is dramatically higher today than it was during Fenway Park's first several decades (the fourth and fifth levels of the park would not be added until several decades later), those playing right field still have a difficult time with the glare from the setting sun at certain times of the day.
On July 12, 1939, the Veterans of Foreign Wars held an Old-Timers Game at Fenway Park as part of the Baseball Centennial, 1839-1939. The day featured a game between National League and American League Old-Timers. Boston Mayor Maurice Tobin and Boston Police Commissioner Joseph Timilty also played that day on a team called the Merry Go Rounders, whose roster also included Bill Carrigan's son and three sons of Smokey Joe Wood. On August 1, the Boston Park Department held a baseball field day that included fungo hitting, catcher's throw, and baserunning. The field day was an annual event at Fenway Park for many years.
1939 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park
June 7Medford High 3, Maynard High 0
June 7Watertown High 7, Attleboro High 0
June 8Lynn Classical 9, Somerville High 8 (10 Innings)
June 8Norwood High 13, St. Clement 0
June 9Watertown High 3, Medford High 1
June 9Norwood High 5, Lynn Classical 3
June 10Norwood High 7, Watertown High 2
July 12National League Old-Timers 8, American League Old-Timers 4
July 12Lowell Thomas's Nine of Old Men 8, Johnny Lane's Merry Go Rounders 2
August 1Boston Park Department Baseball Field Day
On September 11, 1939, the Washington Redskins returned to Fenway Park to play in the annual College All-Star Game series. The third annual Boston game was sponsored by the local American Legion post and had featured the Boston Shamrocks the previous two years. During the rest of 1939, Boston College football dominated Fenway Park's calendar. Though the Eagles dropped their first Fenway game of the year to the Florida Gators, they roared back to take their next five at the ballpark, including a 14-0 upset of 10th-ranked Holy Cross before a crowd of more than 40,000 fans on December 2. Boston College also defeated Boston University, which went 1-2 at Fenway Park in 1939.
1939 Non-Baseball Events At Fenway Park
June 4War Memorial Service*
September 11Washington Redskins 30, Eastern College All-Stars 27 (Football)
October 7Boston University 19, Franklin & Marshall 7 (Football)
October 12University of Florida 7, Boston College 0 (Football)
October 14Western Reserve 19, Boston University 14 (Football)
October 21Boston College 19, Temple 0 (Football)
November 4Boston College 13, Auburn 7 (Football)
November 11St. Anselm 39, Catholic University 13 (Football)
November 25Boston College 38, Kansas State 7 (Football)
December 2Boston College 14, Holy Cross 0 (Football)