4 Yawkey Way Begins Hosting Baseball
After a two day rain delay, a new baseball stadium opens. The date was 1912. 4 Yawkey Way is famous as the address of Fenway Park, the Red Sox’s home stadium, and is closely identified with the park and the team. It is the oldest ballpark in MLB. Because of its age and constrained space its renovations and expansions have resulted in a quirky features including The Triangle, The Green Monster, Pesky’s Pole, and of course the Lone Red Seat. The Lone Red Seat in the right field bleachers (Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21) signifies the longest home run ever hit at Fenway. The home run, hit by Ted Williams on June 9, 1946, was officially measured at 502 feet. Of course there has to be a Yankee controversy involved here in that Babe Ruth hit one in the pre-1934 bleacher configuration which landed five rows from the top in right field. This would have placed it at an estimated 545 feet (166 m) from home plate. There is a move afoot to make Fenway a Boston Landmark which will regulate further changes to the park. The first game was played April 20, 1912, with mayor John F. Fitzgerald throwing out the first pitch and Boston defeating the New York Highlanders (renamed the Yankees the next year), 7-6 in 11 innings. Newspaper coverage of the opening was overshadowed by continuing coverage of the Titanic sinking a few days earlier, and was covered by FOD a few days ago as well. Since the Red Sox’ 1967 “Impossible Dream” season, attendance has been outstanding. On Wednesday, June 17, 2009, the park celebrated its 500th consecutive Red Sox sellout. The sellout streak ended on April 11, 2013; in all the Red Sox sold out 794 regular season games and an additional 26 postseason games during this streak. Neil Diamond‘s “Sweet Caroline” has been played at Fenway Park since at least 1997, and in the middle of the eighth inning at every game since 2002. If you’re a baseball fan, it needs to be on you short list of baseball venues to visit.
Weeghman Park Opens For Baseball
Four years after Fenway Park opens, the Cubs open their new stadium called Weeghman Park on April 20, 1916 and coincidentally beat their opponent the Cincinnati Reds by the same 7-6 score and in 11 innings. In late 1915, Weeghman’s Federal League folded. The resourceful Weeghman formed a syndicate including the chewing gum manufacturer William Wrigley Jr. to buy the Chicago Cubs from Charles P. Taft for about $500,000. Weeghman immediately moved the Cubs from the dilapidated West Side Grounds to his two-year-old Weeghmam Park. In 1918, Wrigley acquired the controlling interest in the club. In November 1926, he renamed the park “Wrigley Field” located on the city’s North Side. The ballpark is famous for its outfield walls which are covered by ivy. The distances from home plate to various points in the outfield have remained essentially unchanged since the bleachers were remodeled during the 1937 season. They were originally marked by wooden numbers cut from plywood, painted white, and placed in gaps where the ivy was not allowed to grow. Since the early 1980s, the numbers have been painted directly on the bricks, in yellow. Although the power-alley dimensions are relatively cozy, the foul lines are currently the deepest in the major leagues. The flat rooftops of the apartment buildings across Waveland and Sheffield, which pre-date the ballpark, were often populated with a reasonable number of fans having cookouts while enjoying the game for free. The Cubs tolerated it quietly until the 1990s, when some owners of those apartments began building little bleacher sections, and charging people to watch the games. This led to meetings and to a peaceful settlement among the various parties. The building owners agreed to share a portion of their proceeds with the Cubs. Some of the rooftops became legendary in their own right. The Lakeview Baseball Club, which sits across Sheffield Avenue (right-field) from the stadium displayed a sign that read, “Eamus Catuli!” (roughly Latin for “Let’s Go Cubs!”—catuli translating to “whelps“, the nearest Latin equivalent), flanked by a counter indicating the Cubs’ long legacy of futility. The counter was labeled “AC”, for “Anno Catulorum”, or “In the Year of the Cubs”. The first two digits indicated the number of years since the Cubs’ last division championship as of the end of the previous season (2016), the next two digits indicated the number of years since the Cubs won the National League Pennant (2016), and the last three digits indicated the number of years since their last World Series win (2016). This is another destination to put on your list.
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