The 1970 Boston Red Sox (Credit: Boston Red Sox)
In 1970, the Red Sox regularly closed off a section in the center-field bleachers to help hitters see the ball as the pitcher released it. The section took on the nickname, "Conig's Corner," after Tony Conigliaro, who was hit by a pitch in the eye in 1967. The club also enclosed Fenway Park's center field flag pole, which had been in play on the warning track since 1934. The Red Sox had a new manager in Eddie Kasko but the same third place result in 1970 and in July, a group of Jehovah's Witnesses flocked to the park.
Over the offseason before the 1971 Red Sox season, the club renovated an area under the center-field bleachers and converted the space into pitching tunnels that could be used as batting cages as well. Using the new practice space, the Red Sox started fast but then dropped off as the summer continued. However, despite the disappointment of late summer, Fenway Park led the league in attendance and a fertile farm system offered hope for the near future.
The Red Sox performed admirably during an unusual season and competed throughout the summer of 1972 but the team suffered heartbreak again during their regular season-ending series against Detroit.
In 1973, Fenway Park was a District One host site for the NCAA baseball tournament and in July, the Newport-New England Jazz festival was held at the ballpark. However, the event descended into pandemonium and violence in certain parts of the ballpark, which would not host another concert until 2003. In the American League's first season with the designated hitter, Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk led the team into battle, hitting a team-high 25 home runs and getting into a brawl with Yankees catcher Thurmon Munson on August 1.
Darrell Johnson took over as manager and the Red Sox held onto first for most of 1974. However, the team unraveled in September and Fenway Park went without post-season baseball once again.
If 1967 was the season that changed the team's place in New England athletic culture, 1975 was the year that cemented the Red Sox as a true regional phenomenon. The Red Sox staved off the Orioles in September, swept the A's in the ALCS and squared off against the Cincinnati Reds in an unforgettable World Series. Though the Red Sox lost to the Reds in seven games, Carlton Fisk's walk-off home run at Fenway Park in Game Six endures to this day as one of the most indelible moments in baseball history.
In the wake of the 1975 season, a new electronic scoreboard was built above the bleachers in center field and the press box was enclosed with glass. The left-field wall was also reconstructed as part of the team's offseason improvements. On the field however, the Red Sox struggled and won just four more games than they lost in 1976, a year in which the organization also lost owner Tom Yawkey when he passed away in July.
For the first time in its history, Fenway Park welcomed more than 2,000,000 fans to the park for Red Sox games in 1977. Most of the fans entered from the street previously called Jersey Street, whose section adjacent the ballpark was renamed Yawkey Way in 1977 to honor Tom Yawkey, the longtime Red Sox owner who passed away the year before. When Red Sox fan took their seats inside the park in 1977, they saw a team that had no shortage of offensive firepower but Boston's 97 wins weren't enough to clinch a playoff spot. During the season, minor league and college baseball games were also played at Fenway Park, including an all-star game between the Cape Cod Baseball League and Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League.
The 1978 Red Sox won 99 games, the club's highest total since their 1946 pennant-winning season. However a single-game, AL East playoff against the Yankees made New York shortstop Bucky Dent an infamous figure in Red Sox history and ended a promising run.
On July 24, 1979, Carl Yastrzemski hit his 400th career home run in a game against Oakland at Fenway Park. Six days later, the ballpark hosted its third all-star game featuring the Cape Cod Baseball League. In September, Yastrzemski reached another milestone in front of the Fenway Park crowd when he collected his 3,000th career hit and became the first player in American League history to notch 400 home runs and 3,000 hits in their career.