A Diamond is Forever: The Timeless Appeal of Fenway Park

Perhaps no city in America takes more pride in its sports teams than Boston, which turns professional athletes into local cult heroes. After all, there’s a reason Fenway Park is self-proclaimed as “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.”

The view atop the Green Monster (Photo: Patrick McHugh)

Once described by author John Updike as a “lyric little bandbox,” Fenway Park opened on April 20, 1912, making it the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball. Located in the Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood, the park is home to the American League’s Boston Red Sox.

While each MLB stadium is different, Fenway Park stands out for its many unique quirks. The most striking is the 37-foot, 2-inch high wall in left field, appropriately dubbed the Green Monster. The 310-foot distance from home plate to left field is the shortest distance of any major league park, yet the height of the wall often turns would-be home runs into base hits. The Monster was erected to prevent baseballs from damaging automobiles at car dealerships across the street, and to prevent people in adjacent apartments from seeing games for free.

In 2003 the park added 278 seats stop the Monster, offering a picturesque view of the action for spectators.

“Every year when tickets go on sale the ones with the most demand are the Monster seats,” said Louis Noferi, a tour guide at the ballpark. “To allow as many people a chance to sit there, except Yankee fans, we have a raffle and you can only buy four tickets per season on the Monster.”

The right field wall also has its own lore. It is 302-feet from home plate to the foul pole, the shortest in baseball. Unlike any other park however, the wall abruptly curves outward and is 380-feet from home plate at its deepest. Former Red Sox great Johnny Pesky took advantage of the short fence in right field, collecting 13 of his 17 career home runs in right field. The pole is now named “Pesky’s Pole.”

(Photo: Patrick McHugh)

Unlike cookie-cutter modern ballparks, Fenway Park retains its own historic feel to it. There are still cement poles in the stands that obstruct views and there is a manual scoreboard at the bottom of the Monster that beckons a forgotten era. The 37,493 who cram into the park during games are still greeted by the wooden benches that have been there for over 80 years, creating a cozy environment.

“The seats are so close together that when you slide through the aisles, you’re nearly rubbing noses with the people in the row behind you,” Noferi said. “We’ve had more matches here than Match.com.”

From the press box behind home plate is a beautiful view of downtown Boston, and if you peer above right field you can see the recognizable Prudential Tower. The Massachusetts Turnpike is just behind left field, and it once was not unusual for baseballs that cleared the Monster to find their way onto the highway.

Still holding up strong in its 100th year in operation, Fenway Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in March of 2012.

  • Days and hours of operation: In-season tours run daily every hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., but end three hours prior to game time. Off-season tours run daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Cost: Adults – $12, Seniors – $11, Children (3-15) – $10
  • Website, phone number, email: http://boston.redsox.mlb.com/bos/ballpark/tour.jsp, 617-226-6666, tours@redsox.com
  • Address: 4 Yawkey Way, Boston, MA, 02215
  • Handicap-accessible: Yes
  • Nearest T stop: Kenmore Square Station, 0.3 miles (approximately a 7-minute walk)
  • Strange Fact: Former Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey and his wife Jean wanted to leave their mark on the park after their death. Along the Green Monster wall there are a series of black dots and dashes that spell out “TAY” and “JRY” in Morse code, the initials of the Yawkeys.
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