It looks increasingly unlikely that the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox will make the postseason in 2019. But there’s still plenty of time this summer to catch the team on their home diamond. And, who knows? Maybe there’ll be games after September.
Key names in 2019
Alex Cora: Cora was formally introduced as the Sox’s 47th manager during a press conference in—where else?—Fenway Park in November 2017. His last coaching job before was with the Houston Astros. Cora played on the Sox’s 2007 World Series team.
Xander Bogaerts: The short stop and third baseman had a solid season last year, and reached deal with the Sox in 2019 for several more years with the team.
Jackie Bradley Jr.: The center-fielder is also one of the Sox’s best hitters
Mookie Betts: Betts was last year’s American League most valuable player.
Dustin Pedroia: Injuries have sidelined the second baseman for much of the season, and it’s unclear if he’ll ever return to active play.
David Price: The left-hander delivered in 2018.
Chris Sale: He’s Price’s fellow left-hander.
Rick Porcello: And on the right ...
John Henry: The businessman has been the principal owner of the Red Sox since 2002. He also owns The Boston Globe and the Liverpool Football Club in the U.K. Henry’s fellow Sox owners include Larry Lucchino and Tom Werner, both of whom have minority stakes (much as Henry once did in the archrival New York Yankees).
Jerry Remy and Dave O’Brien: The pair handle color commentary and play-by-play, respectively, for New England Sports Network (NESN), which broadcasts nearly all Red Sox games. Remy played for the Sox in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Dennis Eckersley provides regular analysis during games.
Joe Castiglione: Castiglione is the longtime broadcaster for Red Sox radio (a.k.a. WEEI), and has been doing the color commentary since the early 1980s. He has been paired this season with a rotating cast of on-air partners. (The same corporate umbrella that covers Fenway Park and the Red Sox covers WEEI.)
Uri Berenguer: Berenguer does the play-by-play for the Red Sox’s Spanish broadcast. He got interested in the trade after meeting Castiglione.
Wally and Tessie the Green Monsters: The pair are the Sox’s official mascots. The siblings’ surname springs from the nickname of Fenway’s famed left-field wall. You can book them for your next event or to have them visit you in Fenway during games.
The single, easiest way to get to Fenway Park is via public transportation.
Take either the Green Line to Fenway Station or Kenmore Station, or the commuter rail to the Yawkey stop. Use the MBTA’s trip planner. Pro tip: Buy a roundtrip ticket if you’re looking to make a quick exit.
As far as driving, the main thing to know is that parking is at a headache-y premium in the surrounding neighborhood (which, incidentally, is also known as Fenway). There are several lots and garages off Brookline Avenue and Lansdowne Street, but a spot for a game can start at more than $20 and run way up from there.
Where to sit
If money is no object, then Field Boxes 21 through 76 are your best bets for fantastic seats at Fenway. Just behind these are Loge Box Sections 108 through 152—also a great bet, and a tad less expensive.
If you’re looking for a deal on tickets and don’t subscribe to the axiom that hell is other people, then the Upper Bleachers and the Standing Room areas behind left field are just the things. They are exactly what they sound like, though.
A final thought on seating at Fenway: It’s one of the smallest ballparks in Major League Baseball, so choice views are relatively easy to come by.
Where to eat and drink
As you might expect, there is plenty to eat and to drink in Fenway Park, though it’ll cost ya. Eater Boston has the definitive dining and drinking guide to the arena, including its Big Concourse where most of the concessions are located.
Pro tip: Save some money, and carbo-load before the game with this guide to eats and drinks around the ballpark.
There are two meta-features that make Fenway Park unique in Major League Baseball: Its age and its size.
First, the age: Fenway is the oldest park in MLB.
It all started in 1911, when then-team owner John Taylor went looking for a site for a new stadium and found it in what was then the rather remote, even slightly rural Fenway neighborhood of Boston (a city still expanding at the time through annexations).
The franchise had played the past 10 years at what are now the athletic facilities for Northeastern University. It was outgrowing that space—and, besides, Taylor was thinking of selling the team and knew a new ballpark would make the Sox that much more attractive.
He and a group of investors acquired Fenway’s future site at a public auction in June 1911 (Taylor sold his controlling interest in the Sox about three months later).
The stadium was largely finished by spring 1912. The first game there was an exhibition contest between the Sox and the team from Harvard College on April 9, 1912. The first official game was April 20, 1912—a 7-6 Red Sox win over the New York Highlanders (who would change their name to the Yankees the following year).
Boston Mayor John ‘Honey Fitz’ Fitzgerald, maternal grandfather of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, tossed out the first ceremonial pitch before a crowd of 27,000.
Curiously, the Detroit Tigers hosted their first official game in a new stadium on April 20, 1912 as well. When that ballpark, Tiger Stadium, was demolished in 2009, Fenway Park became indisputably MLB’s oldest.
Now, to the size.
Many fans know that Fenway Park is one of the smallest arenas in Major League Baseball, with a nighttime capacity of 37,673 and a daytime one of 37,221. Only the home diamonds in Miami, Cleveland, and Tampa are tinier.
At 9 acres, too, Fenway is one of the slenderer footprints in baseball, with perhaps only the 8.5-acre Target Field in Minnesota smaller.
Even Red Sox diehards, however, may not know Fenway’s true shallowness; or the sheer skimpiness of the outfield wall; or the other ways America’s oldest pro ballpark falls short.
- Shallowest right-field line: Fenway Park has the shallowest outfield wall in Major League Baseball—302 feet down the right-field line.
- Shallowest left-field line: Fenway again, this time with 310 feet to the Green Monster.
- Shallowest outfield: See above bullet points. It’s pretty much the same stat, but you know how that one fan you know argues.
- Shortest distance to center field: To dead center, it’s 390 feet. And yet Fenway is not considered particularly fertile ground for home-run hitters.
- Shortest outfield wall: Yes, there is the Green Monster. The left-field behemoth is the tallest outfield wall in MLB. But! Over on the right side, near the bullpens, the wall dips to as low as 3 feet.
What’s new and what’s going to be new
First, three big changes debuted in 2018.
One was a run of field-green safety netting that now extends beyond the dugouts nearly to the foul lines. The 12-foot-high netting is designed to protect fans from foul balls, flying bats, etc., and is part of a larger league safety initiative.
Another big change—and probably more noticeable as it wasn’t designed to blend in with the surroundings—was a new seating area called the Jim Beam Dugout (brought to you by bourbon!). It’s next to the photographers’ pit alongside the Red Sox dugout. The 25 fans there can basically pull up a stool and see the game as the players do.
And, given that Sam Adams has become Fenway’s official beer, replacing Budweiser, a new 74-foot neon Samuel Adams sign now looms from the right-field roof deck (which, conveniently enough, is now the “Sam Deck” with a craft beer concession).
One final note: The game-day pedestrian stretch next to the ballpark has been renamed Jersey Street from Yawkey Way.
Now, as for the future, the Sox have big plans for their home.
In December 2018, the team’s ownership proposed adding an area behind the legendary bleachers section for concessions, restrooms, and “other elements designed to enhance the fan experience,” according to a filing with the Boston Planning & Development Agency.
The franchise also wants to create a room with “sweeping views” of America’s oldest ballpark for hosting large groups for private events.
And the renovations would include modifying existing space to connect some of the ballpark with a proposed 5,400-seat performance space called Fenway Theater—which would be Boston’s largest indoor music venue.
That project is proposed for a triangular site behind the bleachers section between Lansdowne and Ipswich streets, and would bring its own structural changes to that area, which is utilized for mail, concessions, the ground crew, and other uses.
There’s no timeline on these latest proposed changes, but construction on the theater and related changes could start in the fall of 2019, after the current season.