Boston is known for it’s historic attractions like the Boston Tea Party and the Freedom Trail, but did you know it is also home to the oldest major league baseball stadium, Fenway Park. The historic Fenway Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is not only a must see for sports fans, but for non-sports fans as well.
History: Home to the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park first opened on April 20, 1912. The joy of opening day at Fenway Park was overshadowed by the tragedy of the Titanic sinking just 5 days earlier. Fenway Park is one of just two stadiums in the United States (the other being the second oldest MLB park, Wrigley Field in Chicago) remaining of the jewel box ballpark era. Jewel Park ballparks were built in the early 1900s and were the first stadiums to be built with steel and concrete as their primary building materials. This old school style of park is what makes seeing a game at Fenway such a must do experience. The park also holds a much lower amount of fans than the newer ballparks making it a much more intimate ballpark experience. Fenway was the third to last stadium in the country to add lighting in 1947.
There truly is nothing like attending a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Even though the seats aren’t as comfortable as other ballparks and there are multiple obstructed view seats, it’s the history and uniqueness of the park that makes it a great place to watch a game.
Tour of Fenway Park: I recommend not just seeing a game, but also taking a tour of Fenway. Hour long tours are offered at the top of each hour from 10am-5pm from November 1-March 31st. The remainder of the year they are offered from 9am -5pm on non-game days and 9am until 4 hours before game time on game days. The tickets for the tour costs $21 for Adults, $17 for Military and $15 for Children ages 3-12. It’s best to purchase your tickets online as they are limiting the amount of people on each tour due to social distancing protocols. They are also requiring masks for anyone over the age of 2 and requiring paperless tickets. As a note, they also do not allow bags to be brought into the park, unless they are medical or diaper bags.
There are so many great reasons why a tour of Fenway Park is a great idea.
One reason is the great photos that you can get while the park is empty. It’s a wonderful time to get that family photo at the park with no one in the background.
But why else would you spend an hour touring a baseball park, well Fenway Park has a lot of very unique aspects of it that you can learn about and see up close that make the tour so worth the time and money. Here are some of the things you can experience during the tour:
- Green Monster: Probably the most well known aspect of Fenway Park is the 37 foot tall left field wall known as the Green Monster. As the tallest wall in major leagues baseball stadiums, it has been part of the ballpark since opening day in 1912, although it wasn’t painted green until 1947. In 2003, seating was added on top of the Green Monster. These seats are extremely popular, the view of the field is great and there is always that chance of catching a home run ball that is hit in the monster if you are sitting up here. One of the main highlights of the tour is going up on to the famous Green Monster.
- Manual Scoreboard: On the bottom of the Green Monster is a manual scoreboard that has been in use since 1934. With all the modern digital scoreboards in most ballparks, this scoreboard is definitely unique. There are people that work inside the Green Monster and manually change the numbers when the score changes. It would definitely be an interesting job but I’m not sure I could do it, I’ve seen the inside and I feel like I’d be a tad claustrophobic. The initials of former owners Thomas A. and Jean R. Yawkey appear in morse code on the white lines in between the American League scores.
- The Red Seat: While all the bleacher seats in the outfield are green there is one seat that is red. This seat signifies the location of the longest home run ever hit in Fenway Park. The home run was 502 feet and was hit by none other than the most famous Red Sox player, Ted Williams on June 9, 1946. This is a fun place to take a photo while on the tour.
- Pesky Pole: The right field foul pole is 302 feet from home plate, the shortest distance in the MLB. The pole was named after Boston Red Sox player Johnny Pesky. No one seems to know the real story of how the pole got the name Pesky Pole. It started from Red Sox pitcher Mel Parnell calling it that due to a homerun that Pesky hit during a game that Parnell pitched. Some say it was a late inning homerun that won the game, some say the home run was in the first inning. Who knows, regardless, the pole has been nicknamed Pesky’s Pole for decades and on Pesky’s 87th birthday in 2006, the pole was officially named Pesky Pole. Over the years, many fans have signed the pole to leave their mark on Fenway Park.
- Behind the scenes: The tour will take you behind the scenes to places like the press box where you will get to hear of the history of the park and the Red Sox. Sometimes the tour will walk thru one of the locker rooms or even the dugout. One of the great things about the tour is walking thru the stadium in areas that you can’t necessarily get to during a game and being able to see some of the 170,000 pieces of memorabilia that is part of the Fenway Living Museum. These pieces go all the way back to the early days of Fenway Park and the Red Sox to the present. There are some really interesting things to see.
Attending a game at Fenway Park: If you are attending a game at Fenway Park, I highly recommend attending one of the night games. To me there is something special about watching a game after the sun goes down. Plus not only do you miss the heat of the sun in the summer, but you also can see some great sunsets while at Fenway Park. And something about nighttime just makes Fenway look even more beautiful
Kid Fun at Fenway Park: Baseball games can be slow and some kids may get antsy sitting in the stands during the game, but there is also a lot of fun things for kids to see at Fenway Park. Kids will love getting their picture taken with the mascot Wally the Green Monster and checking out Wally’s Clubhouse which is open from the 3rd – 7th inning of each game and includes activities like face painting, balloon artists and games for kids to play.
Multiple Uses of Fenway: Over the years, Fenway Park has been home to more than just the Boston Red Sox. It was also home to the Boston Patriots from 1963-1968 before they became the NFL’s New England Patriots. It was also used by the Boston Braves (now the Atlanta Braves) for their 1915 baseball season.
In the more recent years, Fenway Park has had many other uses:
- Concerts – there are numerous concerts each summer and it’s a very unique place to listen to music.
- Hockey Games – Over the years they have had outdoor NHL and college hockey games at Fenway.
- Ice rink – One winter they even had an ice rink inside Fenway Park, I must say I regret that I didn’t get a chance to check it out, hopefully they have it again another year.
Outside the Stadium: Can’t make it to a game or a tour, take a walk around the outside of the stadium. Outside the stadium there are numerous statues and championship banners to check out.
Dining near Fenway: There are many dining options near Fenway Park, the street on the other side of the Green Monster, Lansdowne Street, is full of bars and restaurants for pre and post game food and drinks. Some good options are:
- Bleacher Bar: This unique bar isn’t part of Fenway Park but is in the park and has a great view from the outfield of the park.
- Cask n Flagon
- Game On Boston
Fenway Park should definitely be on your list of things to do while visiting Boston, especially if you are visiting during baseball season. Go Sox!