Momentous events for Fenway Park and the Red Sox
were on the horizon as the new decade dawned:
new ownership, a major fire, significant
renovations and the arrival of the greatest star
in the history of the franchise.
Under manager Heinie
1930 BoSox were one
of the worst teams in franchise history
finishing dead last in the American League
standings with a record of
52 wins and 102 losses.
444,045 fans came
to their home games, an average of 5,767 a
The 1931 season saw the introduction of players'
uniforms with numbers. “The easier to find them
and boo them,” a sarcastic fan noted. But Babe
Ruth didn’t need a number to be identified. His
return to Fenway on April 22, in a Yankee
uniform, elicited cheers as well as jeers.
Attempting to score from third base on a
sacrifice fly, the Babe collided with
Charlie Berry, an ex-professional football
player. Ruth got the worst of it. He was carried
off the field and rushed to a hospital.
September 28th, he
returned, this time as pitcher, a role that had
earned him much early fame and glory at Fenway.
He walked away with a 9-3 complete game triumph
over his former team. But Lou Gehrig, positioned
in the Sultan of Swat’s normal position in left
field, saw his streak of playing first base for
885 games straight end.
Earlier that 1931 season when the Short-wave and
Television Corporation offered to televise games
Park, owner Bob Quinn
complained: "It has rained every Sunday and our
team is in last place. And you want me to let
the fans see the games at home? How do you
suppose we are going to pay for our players?"
The request was premature. It would take another
seventeen years before baseball from Fenway
would be on TV.
But Sunday baseball did debut that year on July
3rd (the Yankees ripped
13-2). Actually, the Sox had
received approval for Sunday games three years
earlier, but since a church was close by the
ballpark, Sunday games were played at Braves
Field until conditions were right.
No matter the day, game attendance languished in
the doldrums for the 1932 season with only
182,150 passing through the Fenway turnstiles,
an average of 2,366 per game, a home low for the
decade. It was the worst season for the Red Sox
in history; they finished in last place, 64
games behind the first place Yankees. With 43
wins and 111 losses, a .279 percentage; they
were the only team to have a winning percentage
under .300. It was worst
won-and-lost record in franchise
history. What else could one expect of a team
that scored 518 runs while
From 1924 to 1932, the Quinn years, the Red Sox
were the sorriest team in the American League.
They finished last or next to last in all but
one of those seasons. He had borrowed $400,000
from the American League just to keep the team
It was no wonder, therefore, that
depressed and desperate Red Sox owner
John Quinn called a press conference on the 25th
His announcement was not
nevertheless a shocker.
“I haven't got the money to continue,” he said.
Then he informed the press that he had sold the
Red Sox and
It was for the same
amount of money he had paid almost a decade
before for the entire operation - - $1.2 million
It was not the sale as much as the buyer that
got the attention of Boston's newspaper men, a
30-year-old with a fortune estimated to be more
than $40-million. They thought him too young to
have that kind of money. "He's just a kid,"
wrote one wizened scribe.
The “kid” who at first would be called “Tom” and
later on in his ownership tenure always “Mr.
remain on the scene for 44 years. Heir to an
enormous timber and mining fortune,
Yawkey would never
own a home in
time would be spent at Fenway Park, in a suite
between May and October at Boston’s
Ritz-Carlton, in an apartment at New York’s
Pierre, or on a 40,000-acre South Carolina game
preserve where he enjoyed hunting and fishing
and entertaining guests
between October and April.
Most thought that Yawkey
had been taken, paying more than a million
dollars for one of the worst teams in baseball
and a decaying
Park. “It was bad,”
years later. ”I had to pay off Harry M. Stevens,
the concessionaire. The Red Sox owed $150,000 to
the League.” And there was also the mortgage
Park by the New York Yankees – part
of the deal that sent Babe Ruth to
But Tom Yawkey had
the courage of youth, a sportsman’s zeal, and
the money to spare. He figured he could handle
it all. And he did.
Remembering Fenway Park: An Oral and
Narrative History of the Home of the Boston Red
- - now available in
stores and on-line and direct from the author)