DOM DIMAGGIO: The first time I walked into
Fenway Park was a day in April 1940. It was
before the season; there was ice on the field.
Coming from California, it was a bit of a shock
to me. I was wondering how we were going to
start on time.
At the start of the new decade, Fenway Park
featured new bullpens in place in right field in
front of the bleachers. The distance to the
right-center wall was cut from 405 feet to just
over 380 feet. Bullpens had been moved from the
foul lines to the front of the stands in center,
creating the center-field triangle.
BOBBY DOERR: Ted Williams was one of the first
hitters to go to light bats. In 1941, he had a
batch of 32-ouncers brought to Fenway.
Some told him “Ted, you can’t get good wood with
32 ounce bats.”
Ted’s comeback was, “What good is wood if you
can’t handle it?”
He wanted control of the bat to where he could
hit the ball on the fat part. With a heavier bat
he felt he couldn’t even though he was as quick
and strong as anybody. But he still went from a
34 or 35 ounce bat to a 32 once bat.
We became close friends. We were around the same
age; we both liked to go to movies and fish and
talk fishing.. But the thing Ted especially
liked was to talk baseball.
SAM MELE: I was going to New York University.
My coach Bill McCarthy used to drive me up to
Fenway Park to work out for the Red Sox scout
Mahoney. One day, I get in the batting cage.
Pitching to me was Herb Pennock who had been one
of the great pitchers in history.
After a few warm-up pitches, he says "Are you
I say, "Yeah." Now he throws a screwball, a
change up and boy I had a tough time.
They tell me to take five swings. I took four
and I did not swing at the fifth pitch.
"Why did you take that pitch?" a voice behind
the cage says.
"Well, it was kind of low," I said.
"It was, but it was over the plate," the voice
The voice belonged to Ted Williams. He called me
over and started talking to me about hitting.
"You move your feet too far away from the
plate,” he said. “You got to be able to cover
the whole plate when you're batting." I never
Throughout that 1941 season, the talk all over
Boston was about Ted Williams who would be the
last batter to hit .400.
"Number 9 did that"
"That's where Number 9 hit one"
“He got another hit today, Number 9.”
MONSIGNOR THOMAS J. DALY: In 1941, I was age
14 and started as Stile boy. I got paid $1.50 a
day. About the second inning or third, inning
you were free for the rest of the time and you
could watch the ballgame. And if there was a
doubleheader then you had a good day for
yourself. Not too many people tried to sneak
through into Fenway. There was, however, a
note on the bulletin board that I still
remember. “Sir, last week I sneaked into the
ballgame and I’m sending money to pay for the
ticket that I didn’t buy.” The writer was
anonymous, of course.
There was no local TV, and radio was WAAB with
Jim Britt and Tom Hussey. All games were in the
daylight and lots of children were on hand.
Prices of admission for the grandstands were
$1.10, bleachers 55 cents, a reserved seat in
the grandstand $1.40 and tickets for the box
seats were $3.60. It was a pretty quiet
environment. The only music was at the
beginning of the ballgame when everybody stood
for the national anthem. There was just the
BOO FERRIS: After my sophomore year at
Mississippi State University, the Red Sox got me
placed in the Northern League in Vermont. That
was in ’41. My manager there was Bill
Barrett, a former major-leaguer and a Red Sox
scout. We had an open day. He took me and two
players from the University of Oklahoma to our
first big league ballgame.
Bill Barrett says, ”They’re playing the
Cleveland Indians. I’ll take you in and you can
meet the great Red Sox players.”
We drove down in Mr. Barrett’s car. When we
first saw Fenway Park, we were all pretty
bug-eyed, I’ll tell you that. We were just on
cloud nine you might say—three southern boys.
Bill Barrett told us that Lefty Grove was going
for his 300th career win that day,
July the 25th.
We walked in the clubhouse and Johnny Orlando
the clubhouse guy told us to be quiet. We
learned that Lefty Grove who was on the downside
of his great career was in the trainer’s room.
He always took a little nap before the
And Orlando said, “He better not be disturbed or
he’ll tear up the clubhouse.”
So we had to tiptoe by the training room and my
gosh we got to meet Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr,
Dom DiMaggio, Jimmie Foxx, Charlie Wagner and
Joe Cronin, the manager of course.
We shook hands with Red Sox players. Bill
Barrett, he knew them all. I didn’t think to ask
for autographs. getting an autograph wasn’t a
big thing back in those days. But I still have
the program. It cost five cents.
I had a dream that maybe someday I might be
back. We sat in box seats behind the dugout
and had royal treatment. The ballpark was so
compact with seats right down close to the
field. The Wall was out there but it wasn’t
painted green then. Some called it the Iron
Manager Joe Cronin had told Grove before the
game: “Pop, this is a nine inning game. I’m not
coming out to get you. Grove was behind 6-4 in
the seventh inning, tied in the eighth at 6-6.
Then Jimmie Foxx hit a three-run homer. Grove
had given up 12 hits but he had his 300th
and final win.
‘BOO’ FERRIS: He struggled but he made it.
An unforgettable day, for sure, for three
southern boys. That was my introduction to
Fenway. We drove back home and the next day we
were playing baseball.
DOM DIMAGGIO: The atmosphere heightened a great
deal when the Red Sox and Yankees played. I felt
that and enjoyed it.
In 1941, when my brother Joe had the hitting
streak going, Ted would be talking to the guy in
the scoreboard and the guy would keep him posted
when Joe got a hit. You couldn’t do that at any
There were times at Fenway when Joe would be
coming in from centerfield and I would be coming
out. I said very little to him on those
occasions. What the hell was I going to do,
stop in centerfield and have a conversation?
JOHNNY PESKY: Manager Joe Cronin let me play.
That was how it all started in 1942. . We played
the old Boston Braves, an exhibition City
Series, one game at Fenway and one at Braves
The first time I saw Fenway Park it was dark and
dreary. I was mainly concerned about playing as
well as I could and keeping warm. I made four
errors in the exhibition game and felt just
terrible about it. I thought Cronin was going to
send me down to either Scranton or Louisville.
But he didn't say anything to me.
Opening Day, Tuesday April 14th, at
Fenway. I was 22 years old. I came up the
runway, up the three steps and looked out from
the dugout. It was an old park even then. But it
was very well kept, clean and nice. And right in
the middle of the city. I thought it was
We lived on Bay State road just across from
Kenmore Square and could walk across to the
ballpark. I batted leadoff ahead of Dom and
(The Red Sox lineup that April 14, 1942 at
Remembering Fenway Park: An Oral and
Narrative History of the Home of the Boston Red
- - now available in
stores and on-line and direct from the author)