The 20 Most Unforgettable Moments in Fenway Park History

Zachary D. RymerMLB Lead WriterApril 20, 2012

The 20 Most Unforgettable Moments in Fenway Park History

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    The Boston Red Sox played their first big league game at Fenway Park on April 20th, 1912.

    That was 100 years ago today. And wouldn't you know it, Fenway Park is still the home of the Red Sox.

    The team will be honoring Fenway's 100th anniversary with a gala ceremony today before going up against the rival New York Yankees.

    But Friday is not about the present. It's about the past. A lot of things can happen in 100 years, and a lot of things did happen at Fenway Park. It's a ballpark with a lot of memories. Some good, some bad.

    Here's a look back at the most unforgettable moments in Fenway Park history. 

    Note: Baseball-Reference.com made my research a lot easier, and you're going to find links to the site throughout. I recommend giving those a look and then getting lost in the rest of the site.

20. Boston Bruins Win the 2010 Winter Classic

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    Fenway Park has hosted other sports besides baseball. Soccer games have been played there, and the ball park was even home to professional football teams back in the day.

    However, nothing was more surreal than watching an ice hockey game take place at Fenway Park on New Year's Day of 2010. It was the Winter Classic, of course, which that year featured a matchup between the hometown Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers.

    The Bruins won the game in overtime 2-1 on a goal by Marco Sturm.

    "I've been here during baseball games when someone hits it over the Monster," said the Bruins' Shawn Thornton, according to NHL.com. "It was like that."

    The moment also left an impression on Bruins' team captain Zdeno Chara.

    "I'm sure this will stay with us for the rest of our lives," he said.

19. Ted Williams Blasts the Longest Fenway Park Home Run in 1946

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    The seat at Fenway Park that bears the coordinates Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21 is different from all the other seats in the area. The seats around it are green. This particular seat is red.

    That's where a ball hit by Ted Williams on June 9th, 1946 landed. The seat is exactly 502 feet from home plate, making Williams' dinger the longest ever hit at Fenway Park.

    Believe it or not, the story about that home run penned by Harold Kaese of the Boston Globe can be found online. Here's the intro, which introduces us to the man who was struck by the ball (for the record, the official measurement was changed to 502 feet):

    A singular honor fell to Joseph A. Boucher, a construction engineer from Albany, at yesterday’s Red Sox-Tigers double-header. The longest home run ever hit by Ted Williams in Boston bounced squarely off his head in the first inning of the second game.

    He had never sat in the Fenway Park bleachers before. There were 7,897 fans besides himself perched on the sun-drenched wind-whipped concrete slope. Indeed was the elderly Mr. Boucher honored when crowned by a five-ounce baseball that the game’s greatest hitter had socked some 450 feet.

    “How far away must one sit to be safe in this park?” asked Mr. Boucher. Kaese noted that he was "feeling his pate tenderly."

18. Fenway Park on Film

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    Do we have to restrict our favorite Fenway Park moments to things that happened in real life with thousands of people watching?

    I don't think so. Fenway Park has been used as a set piece in several major Hollywood movies that we all know and love, and it's made for a pretty unforgettable character.

    There are three big ones that come to mind. There was the scene in Field of Dreams when Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones go to Fenway Park to hear a ghostly voice reveal an important plot point. Fenway also made multiple appearances in Fever Pitch, a movie that was probably more fun in the making for Red Sox fans than it was in the watching.

    More recently, Fenway was used as the backdrop for a big robbery and action scene in The Town. It's a remarkably underrated movie, and that scene is simply amazing.

    I'm sure that a shootout scene filmed in Yankee Stadium just wouldn't have been the same.

17. Red Sox Play First Game at Fenway Park on April 20th, 1912

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    On April 20th, 1912, the Boston Red Sox played their very first game at their new home.

    Their opponent was the New York Highlanders, who we now know as the New York Yankees. The Red Sox defeated them 7-6 in 11 innings.

    The baseball blog "Misc. Baseball" claims that this is how the Boston Globe described the action the next day:

    There was no time wasted in childish parades. Mayor Fitzgerald dignified the occasion by tossing out the new ball and the Speed Boys and Highlanders were soon at it, starting the game at 1:10 and closing the entertainment at 4:20, when Tristram Speaker, the Texas sharpshooter, with two down in the 11th inning and Steve Yerkes, on third, smashed the ball too fast for the shortstop to handle and the winning run came over the plate, making the score 7 to 6, and the immense crowd leaving for home for a cold supper, but wreathed in smiles to see the Speed Boys come from behind and by dint of staying prowess land the victory.

    Try reading that in an old-timey radio announcer voice. Can you do that without cracking up?

16. Game 6 of the 1918 World Series

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    By the time 1918 rolled around, the Red Sox were the dominant power in baseball. They had already won four World Series, and were attempting to win a fifth against the Chicago Cubs.

    The Red Sox prevailed, winning the clinching game at Fenway Park on September 11th. The game was played in front of a modest crowd of just over 15,000 people.

    Carl Mays was the winning pitcher in Game 6, his second win of the series. Babe Ruth won the other two games for the Red Sox, the first of which was a 1-0 shutout in Game 1.

    Surprisingly, Ruth had just one hit in five at-bats in the six games after hitting .300 with 11 home runs during the regular season.

    He would hit 29 home runs in 1919, his final season with the Red Sox. You know what happened after that.

15. Boston Braves Win 1914 World Series

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    The Red Sox were the dominant power in baseball in the early 1900s, but they weren't the only Boston team to win the World Series at Fenway Park. The Boston Braves actually clinched a World Series victory in 1914 at Fenway.

    Background is needed here. You see, the Braves played most of the season at South End Grounds, a stadium over 40 years old at the time. But in August, the Braves decided to shift over to Fenway to play the rest of their games, with the idea being to play in front of larger crowds.

    The "Miracle Braves" ended up winning the pennant after making the move to Fenway. Clearly, it was a good switch.

    It gets better. The Braves were matched up against the Philadelphia A's, a team that had won 99 games in the regular season, in the World Series. The Braves won the first two games in Philadelphia and then won the next two at Fenway, capping off a clean sweep with a 3-1 victory in Game 4 thanks to a complete game from Dick Rudolph.

    It was the first four-game sweep in World Series history.

14. Red Sox Win Game 8 of the 1912 World Series

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    The title of this slide does not feature a typo. The Red Sox truly did win Game 8 of the 1912 World Series at Fenway Park.

    The Sox found themselves matched up against the New York Giants in the 1912 Fall Classic, who were led by 26-game winner Rube Marquard and 23-game winner Christy Mathewson. 

    The reason the series went eight games was because Game 2 lasted a little too long. It was played at Fenway on October 9th, 1912, and night started to fall when the game went into extra innings. It was eventually called on account of darkness with the score tied 6-6.

    The series came down to an eighth game at Fenway on October 15th. In that game, Mathewson, the losing pitcher in Game 5, was matched up against Hugh Bedient.

    Mathewson pitched well, allowing one run through nine innings. He was in line for a win after Fred Merkle, he of "Merkle's Boner" several years earlier, singled home Red Murray in the top of the 10th. Smoky Joe Wood was on the mound for the Sox at the time.

    The Red Sox fought back against Mathewson in the bottom of the 10th. Clyde Engel pinch-hit for Wood and hit a can of corn to center field that was dropped by Fred Snodgrass. Engle went to second and would eventually come around to score on a single by Tris Speaker, who should have been retired on a foul pop on the first base side of the field.

    Soon after, Larry Gardner hit a sac fly to give the Red Sox a 3-2 win.

13. Jon Lester's No-Hitter in 2008

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    The first couple years of Jon Lester's career make for quite a story. He was a hot prospect when the Sox called him up in 2006, but his rookie season had to come to an end when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. 

    After returning midway through the 2007 season, Lester made his first career postseason start in Game 4 of the World Series, shutting out the Colorado Rockies through 5.2 innings. He ultimately grabbed the win, which was the series clincher for the Red Sox.

    Lester's greatest moment as a Red Sox, however, came on May 19th, 2008. He faced the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park that day, and pitched a no-hitter with nine strikeouts.

    As far as no-hitters go, Lester's was nothing special. But considering what he had been through not even two years earlier, it was a very special moment.

12. Tony Conigliaro's Career Is Derailed in 1967

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    Tony Conigliaro was going to be a star. He made that clear as soon as he came up in 1964 and hit 24 home runs when he was still just 19 years old.

    "Tony C" surpassed the 100-homer mark in 1967 when he was only 22. That August, however, his career took a turn for the worse.

    On August 18th, 1967, Conigliaro was batting against Jack Hamilton of the California Angels. Hamilton hit him in the left cheek with a pitch, forcing Conigliaro to be carried off the field on a stretcher.

    Tony C suffered a broken left cheekbone, a dislocated jaw and damage to his left eye. His eyesight would never be the same.

    Conigliaro was able to return to baseball in 1969, hitting 20 home runs in 141 games, winning the AL Comeback Player of the Year award. The year after that, he hit 36 home runs.

    He would hit just four home runs the year after that with the Angels, and he would hit just two home runs when he attempted to make a comeback in 1975.

    Conigliaro retired with 166 career home runs. There's no telling how many he could have hit if he hadn't been beaned on that August day in 1967.

11. Thurman Munson and Carlton Fisk Brawl in 1973

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    Thurman Munson and Carlton Fisk didn't like each other. Plain and simple.

    The feud between Munson and Fisk lasted for several years and produced many different storylines, but the incident that occurred on August 1st, 1973 will forever define it. 

    With the score tied at 2-2 in the top of the ninth inning, Munson broke for home on a bunt attempt by Gene Michaels. He missed his attempt, but Munson kept coming anyway. When he got to home, he barreled into Fisk.

    Amazingly, Fisk managed to hang on to the ball, but Munson stayed on top of him in an effort to allow Felipe Alou to advance on the basepaths. Fisk took exception to that, and the fight was on.

    In that moment, it wasn't about two rival teams going at one another. It was all about two rival players going at one another.

    They don't make feuds like that one anymore. I honestly don't know if that's good or bad. 

10. Don Zimmer vs. Pedro Martinez in Game 3 of 2003 ALCS

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    There was a charged atmosphere hanging over Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS. It was the Yanks and the Sox, and it was Roger Clemens vs. Pedro Martinez.

    The Sox got an early advantage on Clemens, but the Yanks got to Pedro soon after. With the game heating up, Pedro decided to send a message by directing a pitch the head of New York's Karim Garcia. To make sure everyone got the point, he then started making gestures towards the Yankee dugout.

    The next inning, Manny Ramirez was spooked by a high fastball from Clemens, causing the dugouts to clear. That's when then-Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer sought out Pedro on the battlefield.

    Their confrontation was short-lived, but I doubt any of us will ever forget the sight of Pedro grabbing the 72-year-old Zimmer and throwing him to the ground.

    The Yankees went on to win the game 4-3, but that was pretty much an afterthought next to the Zimmer vs. Martinez storyline.

9. Roger Clemens Strikes Out 20

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    Looking for an example of a dominant pitching performance?

    Check out the box score from the game between the Red Sox and Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park on April 29th, 1986. That was the day Roger Clemens struck out a record 20 hitters in a single game.

    In addition to striking out 20 hitters, Clemens allowed just three hits with no walks. Had he not allowed a home run to Gorman Thomas, his game score would have been a lot higher than 97.

    Amazingly, Clemens would strike out 20 hitters in a game once again 10 years later. The only other pitcher to strike out 20 hitters in a nine-inning game was Kerry Wood back in 1998.

8. Red Sox Clinch AL Pennant in 1967

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    When you think of Red Sox history between 1918 and 2004, you think of near-misses and heartbreak.

    It wasn't all bad. The 1967 Red Sox represent one of the best feel-good stories in the history of Major League Baseball. "The Impossible Dream" Red Sox broke a string of eight consecutive losing seasons, and they went to the franchise's first World Series since the days of Ted Williams in 1946.

    The Sox didn't clinch the pennant until the final day of the season on October 1st, 1967, when they sent Jim Lonborg to the hill against the Minnesota Twins.

    Lonborg went the distance, allowing seven hits and four walks, but only one earned run. Carl Yastrzemski went 4-for-4 with a double, and the Sox rode a five-run sixth to a 5-3 win.

    The Detroit Tigers needed to sweep a double-header against the California Angels in order to tie the Sox for first place, but they lost the second game to fall short.

    The Sox went on to lose to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, but The Impossible Dream team still occupies a special place in many Red Sox fans' hearts.

7. Red Sox and Yankees Brawl in 2004

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    Late in July of the 2004 season, the Red Sox desperately needed a boost. They had fallen well behind the Yankees in the standings, and the Bronx Bombers had just marched into Fenway and beaten them in the first game of a three-game set.

    The second game of that series, played on July 24th, did not start well for the Sox. The Yankees jumped out to a quick lead against Bronson Arroyo, and the natives were getting restless.

    Things boiled over after Arroyo plunked Alex Rodriguez in the arm with a pitch. He took exception to it, and Sox catcher Jason Varitek took exception to A-Rod taking exception to it.

    Suddenly, Varitek's glove was in A-Rod's face, and a baseball brawl for the ages had begun.

    It was a pretty violent brawl by typical baseball standards. It featured several small scrums, one of which left Yankees reliever Tanyon Sturtze battered and bloodied. 

    After the brawl was over, the Sox got to work on a comeback. By the time the ninth inning rolled around, they trailed 10-8 with Mariano Rivera on the mound, but Bill Mueller would win it with a two-run home run into the bullpen.

    The win turned out to be the spark that the Sox needed. They didn't end up catching the Yankees in the standings, but they did get very hot in the season's final two months to secure a spot in the postseason.

6. Bucky "Bleeping" Dent's Home Run in 1978

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    Baseball-Reference.com lists Bucky Dent at 5'9" and 170 pounds. Those numbers might be a little too generous.

    No matter his measurements, Dent was not a home run hitter. He hit just 40 home runs in 12 big league seasons, including just five in 1978.

    One of those home runs just so happened to come in a tie-breaker game against the Red Sox at Fenway on October 2nd, 1978. It was a three-run homer to left that gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead, and it led to a deafening silence in Fenway.

    The Sox were unable to recover, as the Yankees went on to win 5-4. They also went on to win the World Series, in which Dent was named the World Series MVP.

    To this day, he is still known as Bucky "Bleeping" Dent in New England.

5. Ted Williams' Final Home Run

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    In 1959, the penultimate year of Ted Williams' career, Teddy Ballgame was a shell of his former self. He hit just .254, with a measly 10 home runs.

    The 41-year-old Williams went out in style in 1960, finishing the season with a much more Williams-like .316 batting average and 29 home runs.

    The last of those home runs came in Williams' final at-bat as a big leaguer on September 28th, 1960

    I wasn't there, obviously, but John Updike was. This paragraph from his classic essay "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu" will give any baseball fan chills:

    Like a feather caught in a vortex, Williams ran around the square of bases at the center of our beseeching screaming. He ran as he always ran out home runs—hurriedly, unsmiling, head down, as if our praise were a storm of rain to get out of. He didn't tip his cap. Though we thumped, wept, and chanted "We want Ted" for minutes after he hid in the dugout, he did not come back. Our noise for some seconds passed beyond excitement into a kind of immense open anguish, a wailing, a cry to be saved. But immortality is nontransferable. The papers said that the other players, and even the umpires on the field, begged him to come out and acknowledge us in some way, but he never had and did not now. Gods do not answer letters. 

    If only all great baseball moments could be immortalized by words like these.

4. Game 4 of 2004 ALCS

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    Note: these next two slides should be in reverse order, but I decided against it for narrative purposes.

    The Red Sox were facing elimination in Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series, down three games to none against those blasted Yankees.

    To make matters worse, they were down a run in the bottom of the ninth and Mariano Rivera was on the mound.

    You know the story. Kevin Millar drew a leadoff walk, and Dave Roberts was sent in to pinch run. Roberts eventually took off on Mo's first pitch and barely beat Jorge Posada's throw. Bill Mueller singled him home to tie the game at 4-4.

    A few innings later, David Ortiz launched a two-run home run into the right field bullpen. The game had just turned five hours old.

    Little did anyone know that Game 4 was step one of the greatest comeback in baseball history.

3. Game 5 of 2004 ALCS

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    Step two of said greatest comeback followed swiftly. Game 4 was a wild one, but Game 5 was just as wild. 

    There was a kind of tired atmosphere hanging over the ballpark in the early innings, and the end seemed near when Pedro Martinez gave up a bases-clearing double to Derek Jeter that gave the Yankees a 4-2 lead in the sixth.

    The Sox didn't wait around until the ninth to tie the game. David Ortiz homered off Tom Gordon leading off the eighth, and Dave Roberts ended up scoring the game-tying run once again, this time on a sac fly by Jason Varitek.

    After that, several hours of a whole lot of nothing passed. By the time the game reached the bottom of the 12th, it was over five hours old. Again.

    Once again, Big Papi ended it. Walks to Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez set him up for a big two-out moment, and he delivered with a bloop hit to center off Esteban Loaiza on the 10th pitch of his at-bat. Johnny Damon came racing in to score from second. 

    That cut the Yankees' series lead to 3-2, and we all know what happened at Yankee Stadium after that.

2. 1999 All-Star Game

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    Major League Baseball's All-Star Game is without a doubt the best All-Star game in existence. And as long as any of us may live, I don't think we're ever going to see another one like the 1999 All-Star Game. 

    The 1999 All-Star Game was no mere All-Star Game. It was a baseball celebration. The nominees for MLB's All-Century Team were in attendance, and Fenway Park itself played a starring role. 

    The arrival of Ted Williams took the cake, though. He was brought in from center field to a huge standing ovation, and he obliged the Fenway Faithful by tipping his cap. He then threw out the first pitch after being mobbed by that year's All-Stars.

    When the game got underway, Pedro Martinez struck out Barry Larkin, Larry Walker and Sammy Sosa in order. The next inning, he struck out Mark McGwire and ended the inning by striking out Jeff Bagwell.

    Martinez's performance ranks right up there with Carl Hubbell's in the 1934 All-Star Game among the greatest performances in All-Star Game history.

1. Carlton Fisk's Walk-off Homer in Game 6 of 1975 World Series

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    Game 6 of the 1975 World Series between the Red Sox and the Cincinnati Reds is considered by many to be the single greatest World Series game ever played.

    It will forever be remembered for the way it ended, but nobody should be too quick to forget that Carlton Fisk wasn't the only Boston hitter to provide a big home run in Game 6. 

    The Red Sox trailed the Reds 6-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning. Fred Lynn singled, Rico Petrocelli walked, but the next two hitters were retired without issue. With two outs, the Sox needed some magic.

    Sox manager Darrell Johnson called on Bernie Carbo to pinch hit. He responded by launching a game-tying three-run homer to center field.

    The Sox had to fend off a couple Reds rallies after that, but Fisk eventually stepped into the box with the game tied at 6-6 in the bottom of the 12th. He launched Pat Darcy's second pitch down the left-field line and watched it clang off the foul pole. 

    The memory isn't so much about the home run. It's more about Fisk waving the ball fair. It is the image that defines Red Sox baseball at Fenway Park.

Your Favorite?

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    Got a favorite Fenway Park moment that's not on the list?

    Were you there to take in any of the moments that are on the list?

    Feel like sharing a personal story about Fenway?

    By all means, please make good use of the comments section. 

    Thank you for reading.

     

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