Fenway Park's biggest moments to date

December 1st, 2021

BOSTON -- The oldest venue in MLB, Fenway Park opened in 1912. Over the past 11 decades, there have been countless memorable moments that produced cheers and tears of utter joy.

Here is my ranking of the top 10 moments in the history of Fenway.

Game 6, 1975 World Series
The build-up to this game was highly unusual. The Red Sox and “Big Red Machine” Reds had a built-in travel day to Boston after Game 5. Then came three consecutive days of rain. Two clubs filled with stars finally squared off again after a four-day layoff on Oct. 21, 1975.

The lasting image from the epic contest -- considered by some to be the best in World Series history -- is Carlton Fisk belting a drive off the left-field foul pole and using every bit of body language he had to wave it fair. The isolated camera shot of Fisk that was captured by NBC revolutionized the way baseball would be televised.

But there was so much more to the magical night than Fisk. With two outs in the eighth, the Red Sox were down by three runs when pinch-hitter Bernie Carbo roped a game-tying, three-run shot into the bleachers in center field. In the top of the 11th inning, right fielder Dwight Evans, from a contorted position, made a marvelous catch to take a homer away from Joe Morgan. Even while the game was still being played, Cincinnati’s Pete Rose chattered to players on both sides that it was the best game he had ever played in. The fact that the Red Sox lost Game 7 is basically a footnote in Boston due to all the unforgettable heroics in Game 6.

Ted’s last at-bat
Leave it to Ted Williams to put a capper on his career that not even Hollywood could have scripted. In what proved to be his final at-bat, Williams clocked a home run into the Boston bullpen in right-center field. It was the 521st career homer for Williams, who had a glittering line of .344/.482/.634 in his 19 seasons. Williams lost three seasons in the middle of his career (1943-45) serving his country.

His last at-bat -- which took place Sept. 28, 1960 -- could not have ended in a more dramatic fashion. The Red Sox had big-time attendance problems back in those days. Believe it or not, there were just 10,454 fans at the ballpark for Teddy Ballgame’s final cut.

Impossible Dream completed
There was no problem drawing fans at Fenway during the American League pennant race of 1967. While oddsmakers put the Sox at 100-to-1 longshots to win the pennant, this lovable team defied those odds.

It all came down to memorable Game No. 162, played on Oct. 1, 1967. Trailing 2-0 against Twins righty Dean Chance, who won 20 games that season, the Red Sox stormed back with five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. It should come as no surprise that Triple Crown Award winner Carl Yastrzemski clubbed the game-tying, two-run single. Or that Jim Lonborg went the distance for his 22nd win that season.

Fans mobbed the field when shortstop Rico Petrocelli caught the final out. “It’s pandemonium on the field,” Red Sox announcer Ned Martin told his radio audience. Once the game was over, Boston had to wait in its clubhouse for the Tigers and Angels to complete their doubleheader. When the Tigers lost the nightcap, the Red Sox were officially in the World Series. The fact they lost to the Cardinals in seven games in the Fall Classic did little to diminish the accomplishments of that team.

Roberts steals, Papi walks off
Oct. 17, 2004, will go down as the night that the momentum of Red Sox history completely changed directions. There was Boston, trailing the AL Championship Series, 3-0. A loss in Game 4, and the Red Sox would have been swept by the rival Yankees after losing in Game 7 the previous year. Not only that, but Boston hadn’t won a World Series since 1918.

Against that backdrop, and down, 4-3, in the bottom of the ninth inning against the best closer in history in Mariano Rivera, the Red Sox managed to come back. Kevin Millar walked. Dave Roberts stole second. Bill Mueller drove in Roberts with a game-tying single. And David Ortiz belted a walk-off, two-run homer in the bottom of the 12th. The 2004 Red Sox won their last eight postseason games that year, culminating with a sweep of the Cardinals.

2005 ring ceremony
They didn’t have lavish ring ceremonies in the 1910s, when the Red Sox had won it all most recently before 2004. This is why the '05 home opener was one of the most joyful days in club history. The Red Sox finally got their rings, and the crowd soaked up every minute of it. Adding to the atmosphere was the fact that the Yankees were Boston's opponent that day. When Rivera was announced during pregame introductions, the Fenway faithful gave him a playful standing ovation due to his blowing saves in Game 4 and 5 of that ’04 ALCS. Instead of resenting the gesture, Rivera played into it with a wide smile and doffed his cap.

1999 All-Star Game
Fenway hosted the All-Star festivities in 1999 for the first time since '61. Emotions swirled before the game even started as MLB introduced the nominees for the All-Century Team. With a parade of legends on the field, Williams was the center of attention in his former home ballpark. Stars past and present surrounded him from the pitcher’s mound after he threw the ceremonial first pitch. It was his final appearance at Fenway. Once the game started, hometown hero Pedro Martinez sparkled, striking out five of the six batters he faced to win the MVP Award.

Finally, a Fenway clincher
Though the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and ’07, they got the opportunity on Oct. 30, 2013, to do something that hadn’t happened in 95 years -- clinch a championship at Fenway Park, in front of an electric crowd that buzzed from the first pitch to the last. Between, John Lackey fired 6 2/3 scoreless innings and Shane Victorino smashed a bases-clearing double. Koji Uehara, marvelous for all of October, ended the “Boston Strong” month by striking out Matt Carpenter and setting off euphoria -- and fireworks -- at Fenway.

Papi adds to legend
Ortiz was already a legend when he stepped to the plate on Oct. 12, 2013, with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning of Game 2 of the ALCS, with the Red Sox trailing the Tigers, 5-1. With one swing against Joaquin Benoit, Ortiz created a magical moment with a game-tying grand slam. Instead of trailing the series 2-0 with Tigers ace Justin Verlander looming in Game 3, Boston evened things up and went on to oust Detroit in six games. Torii Hunter fell into the bullpen trying to catch the slam, and there is an iconic photo of Boston Police officer Steve Horgan raising his hands in triumph with Hunter upside down.

Yaz’s final game
In one of the most emotional final days for a Boston legend, Captain Carl Yastrzemski said goodbye on Oct. 2, 1983. Prior to the game, Yaz made an emotional speech and did a victory lap around the warning track. During the game, he came up with his final career hit, a hard single to left. And he also played a carom off the Monster perfectly, holding Toby Harrah to a single. Yaz came out for another curtain call after the game, and he again lapped the field to say goodbye to his adoring fans.

Happy 100th anniversary, Fenway
On April 20, 2012, the 100th anniversary of the first game at Fenway Park, the Red Sox had an elaborate celebration that featured countless players from the past. Martinez and Millar did a ceremonial toast with the crowd. Bill Buckner, once an unfair symbol of the team’s failure to be able to win a big game, received one of the loudest ovations. Nomar Garciaparra, Terry Francona, Johnny Pesky and Bobby Doerr also received raucous cheers.