Little Bits of History

Fenway’s First

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 26, 2014
Hugh Bradley

Hugh Bradley

April 26, 1912: Hugh Bradley hits the first homerun ever at Fenway Park. Bradley was born in Grafton, Massachusetts in 1885. The 5′ 10″ right handed player began playing for the Minors in 1906 at the age of 21. He moved up to the Majors in 1910 when the Boston Red Sox picked him up. During his five years of Major League Baseball, he played first base and a right field. He was with Boston for two years and then was traded first to Pittsburgh, next to Brooklyn and finally to Newark. His batting average was .261 and he batted in 117 runs over his career. He had exactly two home runs during his tenure in the major leagues with one of them being this illustrious first ever at the new home of the Boston Red Sox.

Fenway Park opened on April 20, 1912. It has been home to the Boston Red Sox ever since and is the oldest ballpark in MLB. The Red Sox moved here from Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds. The year before, the owner of the club, John I Taylor, purchased the land on which the new stadium was built. He claimed the name came from the Fenway neighborhood of Boston, which got its name from the filling in of marshlands or “fens” to create the Back Bay Fens urban park. It is also to be noted that the Taylor family owned the Fenway Realty Company. Like many older stadiums, Fenway was built on an asymmetrical lot which gave it asymmetrical field dimensions.

On April 20, Boston mayor John F Fitzgerald threw out the opening pitch and Boston won the game in 11 innings. They were playing against the New York Highlanders who would be renamed the Yankees the next year. While this was exciting news, it was overshadowed in the press by the continued coverage of an even bigger story, the sinking of the Titanic just a few days earlier. Boston might be known today for holding the record for consecutive sellouts of their stadium (456th, which beat out the Cleveland Indians). The sellout streak ended on April 11, 2013 after 794 regular season games and 26 post-season games. The lowest paid attendance for the stadium came in 1965 when under 500 people showed up for two regular season games.

The stadium has been renovated, improved, enlarged, and upgraded several times in the over 100 years of its existence. The first was in 1934 when an iconic hand-changing scoreboard was added as were lights to indicate strikes and balls. In 1946 and upper deck was placed and the next year arc lights were put in. Only two other teams had not yet made this improvement. In 1999, auxiliary press boxes were added and at the turn of the century, a new video display (23 feet x 30 feet) was put in center field. Almost yearly since then, something new or upgraded as been added or improved. Today, the stadium hold 37,071 people during the day and 37,499 for night games. Play ball.

Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day, and that’s the way baseball is. – Bob Feller

Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer. – Ted Williams

A baseball game is simply a nervous breakdown divided into nine innings. – Earl Wilson

Baseball is like church. Many attend few understand. – Leo Durocher

Also on this day: Chernobyl – In 1986, there is a nuclear disaster in the Chernobyl power plant.
John Wilkes Booth – In 1865, the actor was found and killed.
Tanzania – In 1964, Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged.
Police – In 1933, the Gestapo was formed.

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