Fenway Park - April 20, 1912
Fenway Park was supposed to open on April 18, 1912, a Thursday. The game was rained out. A doubleheader was scheduled for April 19, Patriots’ Day. Again the weather failed to cooperate. Finally, on Saturday April 20 at 3:00 pm the Boston Red Sox took the field against the New York Highlanders. (They wouldn’t be called the Yankees until the following season, and the heated rivalry was eight years - and an infamous trade - away.)
Anywhere from 24,000 to 27,000 fans were in attendance, enough that overflow was allowed to watch the game behind ropes in the outfield. (Not the outfield seats, the grass itself.) Seats were priced from 25¢ for the bleachers up to $1.50 for box seats. The crowd got its money’s worth.
The Highlanders jumped out to a 3-1 lead after the first inning. By the end of the 3rd it was 5-1. But in the bottom of the fourth, the Red Sox had three men cross the plate to bring the score to within one. Boston tied it up in the sixth, and both teams traded runs in the 8th.
The score was 6-6 after nine. In the bottom of the 11th the Sox scored again earning a 7-6 walk-off win in their brand-new park. (No more details are known because there is no complete box score from the game.)
The Sox starter, Buck O’Brien, would earn the win and finish 20-13 that year. Ray Caldwell earned the loss, one of 16 against only 8 wins.
By October the Sox had run away with the AL pennant, with a final record of 105-47, fourteen games up on the 2nd place Washington Senators. (The Highlanders would finish last, 55 games behind Boston.) In the postseason, the Sox defeated the Giants five games to three (best of 9 back then), clinching it in their shiny new park on October 16, 1912. They would win three Series more by 1918…then a small championship drought you may be familiar with…before winning again in 2004 and 2007.
Favorite random fact: Fenway has been the home park for more football teams (5 - Boston Bulldogs, 1926; Boston Shamrocks, 1936-1937; Boston Redskins, 1933-1936, later moved to Washington; Boston Yanks, 1944-1948, the owner originally hoped to play in Yankee Stadium - awkward; and the Boston Patriots, 1963-1968) than baseball teams (2 - Sox and the Boston Braves for the 1914 World Series and 1915 season).
Sources: retrosheet.org, Boston’s SABR chapter (great stuff on 1912 there), and wikipedia.org
(Image of first ball thrown at Fenway on April 20, 1912 is courtesy of ESPN.com and copyright Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)