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First Match Up At Fenway:  April 20, 1912 (From the Vault)

 

It will soon be Yankees Vs. Red Sox at Fenway Park to open the 2011 season there.  The historic rivals are at it again and the "Great Rivalry" -- and it is a great rivalry despite some commentary from an NPR sage -- is at fever pitch.

Former Baseball Commissioner - A. Bartlett Giammati made the statement:  "When I was seven years old, my father took me to Fenway Park for the first time, and as I grew up I knew that as a building it was on the level of Mount Olympus, the Pyramid at Giza, the nation's Capitol, the Czar's Winter Palace, and the Louvre - except, of course, that it was better than all those inconsequential places." Contrary to some rumors probably spread by Yankee fans, the scholarly Giammati was not around for the start of play at Fenway which was a very long time ago.

Prior to 1912, the Red Sox played at Huntington Avenue Grounds, now part of Northeastern University. Fittingly, the first American League team to visit Fenway Park was New York -- at that time known as the Highlanders, soon to become the Yankees. It was a damp and chilly New England spring that year. The Red Sox actually played their first game at Fenway 11 days before, defeating Harvard University in an exhibition game played in a snowstorm. Then the Red Sox and Highlanders had to sit out two rainouts before facing off on Saturday April 20, just a few days after the sinking of the Titanic.

The future grandfather of President John F. Kennedy, Boston Mayor John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald was one of the 27,000 in attendance. He threw out the first ball in the park that was built at a cost of $350,000 that would come to be known as "Boston's Sistine Chapel."

The played on into extra innings. Boston prevailed finally winning,7-6, on a Tris Speaker RBI in the bottom of the 11th inning. Red Sox spitballer Bucky O'Brien and Sea Lion Hall defeated New York's Jumbo Jim Vaughn.
   
Opening day turned out to be a good predictor of the season's fortunes for both Boston and New York. The Red Sox took the American League pennant in 1912 with a 105-47 record, good for a winning percentage of .691, and went on to beat the New York Giants in the World Series. The Highlanders, suffering their 6th straight loss, went 50-102 (.329), finishing in last place, a whopping 55 games behind the Red Sox.

Even after the BoSox had Fenway as a home park, they didn't always play all their games there. From time to time, they scheduled  "big games" at Braves Field to accommodate larger crowds than their little park could accommodate.

But that worry is way in the past - - now a seat at Fenway is one of the toughest tickets in all of baseball.

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You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

About the Author:

Harvey Frommer is in his  38th year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to acclaim in 2011.  The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One. 

His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath, The Sporting News, among other publications.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.
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Harvey Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz  Frommer are the authors of five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth  College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. 

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

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