First Match Up At Fenway:
April 20, 1912 (From the Vault)
It will soon be Yankees Vs. Red
Sox at Fenway Park to open the 2011 season
there. The historic rivals are at it again and
the "Great Rivalry" -- and it is a great rivalry
despite some commentary from an NPR sage -- is
at fever pitch.
Former Baseball Commissioner - A. Bartlett
Giammati made the statement: "When I was seven
years old, my father took me to Fenway Park for
the first time, and as I grew up I knew that as
a building it was on the level of Mount Olympus,
the Pyramid at Giza, the nation's Capitol, the
Czar's Winter Palace, and the Louvre - except,
of course, that it was better than all those
inconsequential places." Contrary to some rumors
probably spread by Yankee fans, the scholarly
Giammati was not around for the start of play at
Fenway which was a very long time ago.
Prior to 1912, the Red Sox played at Huntington
Avenue Grounds, now part of Northeastern
University. Fittingly, the first American League
team to visit Fenway Park was New York -- at
that time known as the Highlanders, soon to
become the Yankees. It was a damp and chilly New
England spring that year. The Red Sox actually
played their first game at Fenway 11 days
before, defeating Harvard University in an
exhibition game played in a snowstorm. Then the
Red Sox and Highlanders had to sit out two
rainouts before facing off on Saturday April 20,
just a few days after the sinking of the
The future grandfather of President John F.
Kennedy, Boston Mayor John "Honey Fitz"
Fitzgerald was one of the 27,000 in attendance.
He threw out the first ball in the park that was
built at a cost of $350,000 that would come to
be known as "Boston's Sistine Chapel."
The played on into extra innings. Boston
prevailed finally winning,7-6, on a Tris Speaker
RBI in the bottom of the 11th inning. Red Sox
spitballer Bucky O'Brien and Sea Lion Hall
defeated New York's Jumbo Jim Vaughn.
Opening day turned out to be a good predictor of
the season's fortunes for both Boston and New
York. The Red Sox took the American League
pennant in 1912 with a 105-47 record, good for a
winning percentage of .691, and went on to beat
the New York Giants in the World Series. The
Highlanders, suffering their 6th straight loss,
went 50-102 (.329), finishing in last place, a
whopping 55 games behind the Red Sox.
Even after the BoSox had Fenway as a home park,
they didn't always play all their games there.
From time to time, they scheduled "big games"
at Braves Field to accommodate larger crowds
than their little park could accommodate.
But that worry is way in the past - - now a seat
at Fenway is one of the toughest tickets in all
# # #
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About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
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Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz Frommer are the authors of
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