View Full Version : Fenway Park Tour

01-04-2018, 03:10 PM
I find it hard to believe that’s been quite a while since I was a Fenway Park Tour Guide.

How often, when I lived in the Dorchester-Mattapan section of Boston, did I go to Fenway Park? I'm sure, over the years, dozens of times.

Well, about a dozen years ago, I served as a Fenway Park Tour Guide. If you've never taken the tour (the tour, I’m sure, has changed over the years) please be my guest as I take you on an imaginary visit to Major League Baseball's oldest ballpark.

The Scene: The Souvenir Shop across the street from Fenway Park on Yawkey Way. The Occasion: Fenway Park tour.

“Hi everyone" (I have a "belly" mic around my waist so it's easier for everyone to hear me).

“My name is Walter. I’ll be your Fenway Park tour guide. Welcome. Where’s everybody from? (Hand goes up) “Yes.” “I’m from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.” “Not far from Harrisburg,” I say. “Yes, that’s right.” “Where are you from, Sir?” “Windsor, Ontario, Canada.” “How ‘bout you, Sir?” “I’m from Cleveland.” “Ah, Home to the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, The Cleveland Indians and the infamous ‘Canadian Soldiers’. Seriously, some people call Cleveland: “The Greatest Location in the Nation.”

“Well, let’s get started. Welcome to Boston, or as we Bostonians say ‘Bah-stn.’ Be careful when you drive your car, or as we say “cah,” on our streets. An amber light means five cars will go through. When the light changes to red, two more cars will go whizzing by. I then tell my group, “When we exit the souvenir shop, we’ll be hooking a right onto Yawkey Way. As you’re walking, take a look at the brickwork on the Fenway Park facade; some of it dates back to when Fenway was first built in 1912. The novelist John Updike called Fenway Park, ‘a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark.’ It looks like it’s been ‘shoe-horned into the neighborhood’. In fact some people have actually gone right past the place.

“We’ve reached Gate D. If you have any bags, security in this post-9/11 era will be checking them. We’re sorry for any inconvenience, but I’m sure you understand. Look to your right. That’s where the Red Sox players park their cars. Many a youngster has been known to slip piece of paper under or between the grating to get players’ autographs. I hope you brought your walking shoes. We’re going up several zigzagging ramp-ways.

“We're reaching the upper level. In front of you is the media dining room. Good food, cheap. Actually, free to the writers and people who work for the Red Sox. As we hook a right and walk down the corridor, notice the many pictures and copies of newspaper headlines on the wall. It’s a pictorial view of Red Sox history.

“Take a look to your right at some of the doors. These rooms, or should I say suites, are where some of the Red Sox brass watch the games. Further down, you’ll see the broadcast booths. This is where guys like Joe Castiglione, Dave O’Brien, Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy will broadcast the games. I can tell you from first-hand experience that it is one of the best places to watch a game.

“Well, we’ve arrived at the Media Center/Press Box. This is where all the newspaper writers will sit to watch the game. Ted Williams, who had his troubles with the press, sarcastically called them: “The Knights of the Keyboard.”

“Please make yourself comfortable. Enjoy the panoramic view of Fenway. Take a look to your right, down the right field line. See that domed building in the background. That’s the Christian Science Church headquarters. It’s near Huntington Avenue where the Red Sox first played their games at the beginning of the 20th Century. In those days, the Red Sox had many names. One of them was the Pilgrims. They played at a field called the Huntington Avenue Grounds; it’s now part of Northeastern University. It was so spacious at the Huntington Ave. Grounds that you literally had to take a taxi-cab to get out to center field. Anything that got by the center fielder was likely to be an inside-the-park home run. That, of course, was during baseball’s ‘dead ball era.’ I’ve been often asked what a baseball was like during that time; the best I could come up with to describe the baseball was a hard hacky-sack.

“Yes sir, you have a question.” “What are those numbers that are on the facade in right field?” “Those are the retired Red Sox numbers: Number 1 is Bobby Doerr, an outstanding hitter and fielder. He was called “The Silent Captain”. His career may well have been cut short by back problems; #4 Joe Cronin, was a player-manager and later manager for the Red Sox (Johnny Pesky's #6 was later added), #8 Carl Yazstrzemski, or simply “Yaz”. He played for nearly 25 years with the Sox. Who could forget his exploits during the ‘67 season. Former manager Dick Williams once said the he had played on some of those great Dodgers teams of the 1950s, but during those final weeks in ‘67 there was no one who could compare with Yaz; he nearly carried the team on his back. Number # 27 is Carlton Fisk. He’s a native New Englander. There are some who have mixed emotions about Fisk. He did spend the later portion of his career with the White Sox.

"Finally. everyone has this number retired, number #42, that was Jackie Robinson’s number. Trivia question: no one can ever again wear number 42., Who’s the only ‘grand-fathered’ player to do so, (Hand goes up) “Yes,” “Mariano Rivera”. “How did you happen to know that?” “I’m a Yankee fan.” “Don’t say that too loudly around here.”

“As we look to our left, you can see a red seat high up in the bleachers; that red seat is the spot of the longest home run ever hit by a Red Sox player – or anyone for that matter -- within the confines of Fenway; it was 502 feet away. It was hit by Ted Williams off the Tigers’ Fred Hutchinson in the second game of a double-header in June, 1946. There’s an interesting story connected with that home run. . There was a man from Albany, NY sitting in that seat. He was taking a siesta when suddenly the totally unexpected occurred; he was struck on the crown of his straw hat by Williams’ smash. He was taken to the infirmary, but he was unhurt. He freely admitted he was a Yankees’ fan. The headline in one of the Boston papers the next day read: “Williams Blast Knocks Sense Into Yankee Fan.”

"Speaking of Williams, do you see the bleachers in right-center? On the face of the bullpen is the distance from home plate – 380 feet. Well it wasn’t always that way. In 1939, a young slugger, born in San Diego, came up from Triple-A Minneapolis to play for the Red Sox; his name, of course, is Theodore Samuel Williams. At the time, the bullpens were not there. When management saw how many homers Williams had hit to right, and also the number of times he was robbed of a homer, they created the bullpen area and moved the fence in 23 feet. Ironically, Williams didn’t hit as many homers in his sophomore year as he had in his first year. By the way, the bullpen area was called "Williamsburg."

"In straightaway center we have what is called ‘the triangle’. It’s 420' to the centerfield wall from home plate. Look slightly to your left. You’re looking at “The Green Monster.” Only in my day, we simply called it “The Wall.” It’s 37 feet high and it ever so gradually inches its way out from the left field line toward left center. The flag pole you see in the stands in straightaway center used to be down on the playing field in left center. However, several players collided with it so they moved it off the field of play.

As you can see there are 'Monster Seats' atop 'The Green Monster'. I personally believe it's one of the best places from which to watch a game. Also it's a great place to get souvenir baseballs, either during batting practice or the game itself. If you sat up there, you'd be advised to bring your glove. As you look at the scoreboard on the wall, you may note that all the scores are put up manually from inside the wall (they have to come outside for the National League scores). I’ve never been inside the wall, but the pictures I’ve seen show a placed filled with players' autographs and comments.

By the way, you may note some Morse Code on the wall. Tom Yawkey and his wife Jean wanted to be remembered here at Fenway so they had their initials depicted in Morse Code on the wall; that's what all those dot-dashes are. Speaking of the Wall, there used to be a netting atop the Wall (Remember Bucky Dent off Mike Torres); it was put there not so much from keeping balls from leaving the park and getting to use them again in practice, but because the Red Sox were being sued by businesses on the other side of Lansdowne St. for broken window panes.

Oh, you must have noticed the Citgo sign in the background. Joe Carter was once was asked why he did so well at Fenway. Joe responded that when he saw the sign (he interpreted its letters in a rebus-like way) it said to him: "C-IT-GO". He said that seeing that sign would pump (no pun intended) him up.

One final story before we finish up. You see all those signs on the Fenway Park "Green Monster." Years ago, there were only a few. One was a Lifebuoy Soap Sign. Well, there were two brothers, one lived in Boston, the other lived in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia brother responded to his Boston counterpart's comment about the signs on the wall at Fenway Park. He said, "We also have a Lifebuoy Soap sign on our wall at Shibe Park, but the Athletics still stink!"

Well, that will about do it. Thank you for the taking the Fenway Park Tour. We hope you'll come by and visit us again.

01-04-2018, 04:53 PM
Thank you for your posting. I really enjoyed it. It must have been enjoyable working at Fenway Park. I was a big baseball fan when I was a kid, in the 50's, and still was until my dad passed away almost 9 years ago. Only watch the playoffs now. Thanks for bringing all those memories back and the good times I had watching baseball with my dad. Always wanted to see Fenway Park, will never be able to anymore, so reading this made me feel like I was there. Thanks again.