What do you do in a place like Boston when you've "been there, done that"?
Why, you go to Fenway Park, that's what you do!
I had originally planned to spend the day in port, either at the terminal, if it had free wifi, or hunkered down at a Starbucks, and work for the day. But right before I left for my cruise, my manager said "it's not that busy, why lug your laptop and files with you, go and enjoy your time away and just check in via email when you can." So that's what I did. Which left me with an entire day in Boston with nothing planned. I reviewed the list of shore excursions and suddenly, one caught my eye ---- Fenway Park tour. Hoooooooohhhhhh. YES! A chance to visit an American icon? See the Green Monster up close? YES! Boy, was I excited.
It just so happened that the Red Sox were going to play in the World Series, so when our tour bus holding 30 equally excited passengers arrived at the park, there was mayhem all about. Big semi trucks parked all over, media outlets running cables, cameras being set up in strategic locations within the park to capture the perfect pitch, a base hit, a double play. You could feel the buzz all around.
Fenway has been the home of the Red Sox since 1912. The very beginning, however, was in 1901 about a mile away, at an open field called the Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds and the original name of the team was the Boston Americans, because it was part of a new American league. In 1903, the team played a national league team called the Pittsburgh Pirates, in a new World Series. Guess who won! Boston, of course.
In 1908 the team got new uniforms designed and there was a pair of red stockings on the shirt, so the team changed its name to the Red Stockings. But the name was too long to put on uniforms, so it was shortened to the Red Socks. But then it didn't look balanced - three letters on one side and five on the other side, so for the sake of symmetry and to the horror of Elementary school teachers across Boston, it became the Red Sox.
Long before corporate sponsors named ball parks and other arenas, Fenway Park was named simply for the city district in which the ball park was built, Fenway district. The stadium opened in April of 1912 and the first team the Red Sox played was a team called the New York Highlanders. Boston beat them 7-6 in eleven innings. A year later the Highlanders changed their name to the Yankees, but Boston can truthfully and proudly say that they've beat the Yankees here since day one!
A special tie-in here ---- it was exciting news that the team won their very first game at their new park against their arch rivals, but sadly, the story was moved to page two of the newspaper, because the front page was filled with another major news story -- that of the sinking, five days earlier, of the Titanic.
The ball park fell into disarray and the team had some bad years in the 1920s and early 1930s until a new owner from South Carolina came in and poured several million dollars into Fenway -- he added new grandstand seats - wooden, and today they remain the oldest seats in all of baseball, as well as the most uncomfortable! The owner also put a roof over the seats, and added the bleacher section in the outfield. He also built the wall in left field, which is affectionately known today as the Green Monster, in 1934. Thirty seven feet, two inches high, 231 feet across. The added seats, including about 2,500 standing room only spots, increased the capacity at Fenway to just over 39,900.
In Boston, there are only 25 letters in the alphabet. There is no letter "R", unless the word ends in an "A". The country 90 miles off the coast of Florida? Cuber. You want a cold drink? Order a soder. But the left field wall at Fenway? It's the Green Monstuh.
Fenway enjoyed a sold out status streak of 793 games, beginning with May of 2003 until the second game of this 2013 season.
Most famous seat in Fenway is a red seat out in the bleachers. All the other bleacher seats are "Fenway Green". This special red seat marks the spot where Ted Williams hit the longest home run in the park, June 9th, 1946, in a game against the Detroit Tigers. Anyone can sit in this seat for the price of just $28..........the same price as any other bleacher seat.
There's more stories to be told about this American classic, but this is a travel blog, not a history book, so I'll end this here. Hands down, though, this was the best ship sponsored shore excursion I've ever taken. In addition to our tour of Fenway, our bus and guide took us through some of the historical sections of Boston -- we passed by Trinity Church, the Boston Common, Back Bay, the tv-famous Cheers bar, old graveyards, and a number of other notable sites.
It was a great day!