The Monster is all psychological. It’s all in the head.” That’s how noted psychologist Joe DiMaggio once summed up the effect of Fenway Park’s most prominent feature: its towering left field wall. The Green Monster . . . it stands simultaneously as a symbol of the Red Sox’s grand history and of their longtime championship futility. But it was an easy element for Joe D. to dismiss. He stood smack in the middle of a long progression of pinstriped party crashers who contributed to the lingering pall of
pessimism that pervades this most pastoral of parks. And as Fenway prepares to host the All-Star game— and to fend off the wrecking ball thereafter— it seems appropriate to look back at some of the great moments that venerable ballyard has played host to . . . for Yankee fans.
April 20, 1912 In the first game ever played at Fenway, the Red Sox beat the New York Highlanders— the Yankees’ predecessor— 7-6 in 11 innings before a crowd of 27,000. The Red Sox go on to beat the Giants in the World Series.
December 26, 1919 Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, lacking the cash to finance his new show, No No Nannette, sells Babe Ruth to the Yankees for $125,000. At the same time, he mortgages Fenway Park to Yankee owner Jacob Ruppert for $350,000.
September 30, 1922 The Yankees clinch their second AL pennant with a 3-1 win over the Red Sox at Fenway.
September 23, 1923 In his first game at Fenway, 20-year-old Lou Gehrig hits his first Major League home run.
June 23, 1927 “They were as handsome and as far as any man has ever hit in one game,” wrote James Harrison in The New York Times about the three home runs hit by Gehrig that day. With the Boston blasts, Gehrig becomes only the second Yankee to achieve the feat and closes to within three dingers of teammate Ruth, inaugurating baseball’s first home run race. (Ruth, of course, would finish with 60, while Gehrig would bash 47.)
September 6, 1927 Two innings after Gehrig hits his 45th home run to move ahead of Ruth in that first great home run race, the Bambino responds with what may have been the longest home run ever hit at Fenway. “This long one yesterday was the daddy of all others,” The Boston Globe reports. “The ball was still climbing when it went high over the highest part of the high fence in center field, just to the left of the flagpole. Nobody at the park could tell where it landed, but when it disappeared it was headed for the Charles River basin.” That would be the last time the two would be tied. In his next at bat, Ruth hits another long ball into the right field stands, and in the ninth inning of the second game, he hits another monster blast. During the series, Ruth would hit a record five home runs in three games, pushing his total to 49.
July 3, 1932 The Yankees beat the Red Sox 13-2 in the first Sunday game played at Fenway. For the previous three years, the Red Sox played Sunday games at Braves Field because Fenway was deemed to be too close to a church.
June 6, 1934 Yankee outfielder Myril Hoag, who would collect only 67 hits that season, ties an AL record with six singles in six at bats.
August 12, 1934 Making his final appearance in Boston in a Yankee uniform, Ruth draws a Fenway Park record 47,766 fans, with an estimated 20,000 turned away at the gate. The Yankees split a double header, and the Bambino leaves the field to a standing ovation.
April 15, 1936 A 23-foot-4-inch net is placed atop Fenway’s Monster— not yet painted green (which would happen in 1947)— to protect the windows on Lansdowne Street.
September 3, 1939 With Fenway’s 6:30 curfew only nine minutes away, the Yankees score two runs in the top of the eighth to take a
7-5 lead in the second game of a double header. To speed the game along so that the winning runs will count, Babe Dahlgren swings at a would-be intentional walk and Joe Gordon and George Selkirk casually trot toward home and are tagged out. Boston manager Joe Cronin protests, but his entreaties fall on deaf ears. The angry Beantown crowd pelts the field with bottles, and the umpires declare the game a 9-0 forfeit. That decision is later reversed by league president Will Harridge, who declares the game a tie.
May 30, 1941 In what may be the worst game of his career, Joe DiMaggio makes three errors in the second game of a double header that the Yankees lose 13-0. In the fifth inning, the Yankee Clipper hits a fly ball to right that Red Sox outfielder Pete Fox loses in the sun and gusty wind. It’s scored a hit, which breaks up Mickey Harris’s no hitter, and more important, extends DiMaggio’s soon-to-be record hitting streak to 16 games.
June 28, 1949 As the Sunday game is about to get under way, a biplane flies over Fenway, pulling a banner that reads “The Great DiMaggio,” a reference to Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. After missing 65 games because of a bone spur in his foot, DiMaggio hits four homers and a single and drives in nine runs in a three-game sweep of the BoSox. The two teams enter the final game of the season tied, until the Yankees clinch the pennant with a 5-3 win.
September 23, 1955 The Yankees clinch the AL Pennant with a 3-2 win over the Red Sox, although the winning pitcher isn’t there to see it. Relieved in the eighth inning by Whitey Ford, Don Larsen turns on all the showers in the visiting clubhouse to drown out the crowd noise and the clubhouse radio, and hides in an adjacent utility room. His teammates find him still in his uniform, sitting on a block of ice, with his fingers in his ears, drinking a beer.
July 7, 1956 After muffing a windblown flyball hit by Mickey Mantle in the top of the 11th inning, Ted Williams spits on Boston fans, who had booed him for the error. The Red Sox win the game anyway on Williams’s bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the inning. He is fined $5000 for what is his third spitting incident in three weeks. Before the game, Boston right fielder Jackie Jensen has to be restrained from going into the stands after a heckler.
September 23, 1956 “If I could run like that son of a bitch, I’d hit .400 every year,” says Ted Williams about Mantle, who takes the lead in the batting race during this season-ending clash at Fenway. Mantle would take the Triple Crown with a .353 average, 52 HRs, and 130 RBI. His one Fenway Park shot was a 480-footer that lands inches from the top of the centerfield bleachers.
April 20, 1957 Yankee great Moose Skowron, so named because of his resemblance to Mussolini, hits a ball clear out of Fenway. His homer is one of only six balls ever hit out of the park to the right of the center field flagpole.
August 1, 1973 Taking a page from Bruno Sammartino, Carlton Fisk body-slams Thurmon Munson to the Fenway turf after a home plate collision following a botched suicide squeeze. Fisk and Munson are both ejected, but Yankee shortstop Gene Michael— who coldcocked the gloating Fisk— was allowed to stay in the game. Asked why, umpire Joe Brinkman told Michael, “When I go to a three-ring circus I always watch the wrong ring.”
June 18, 1977 “You don’t know what you’re doing, old man. You showed me up in front of 50 million people.” The words of Reggie Jackson, who nearly comes to blows with Billy Martin in Fenway’s visiting dugout in front of a national TV audience. Martin had just pulled Jackson for loafing after a fly ball in the Red Sox 10-4 victory. Martin, for his part, shouts at Jimmy Wynn, who’s restraining him, “Let me go, I’m gonna break his fucking ass.”
September 7, 1978 Martin— upset at Boston pitcher Bill Lee for writing an article that said the Yankees were a “bunch of derelicts and has-beens” and called Steinbrenner “Hitler” and Billy Martin “Hermann Göring” and described the Yankees as their “storm troopers”— has a dead mackerel hung in Lee’s locker. The Yanks would pull off a three-game sweep, dubbed the Boston Massacre. New York would outhit the Red Sox by 67-21, outscore them 42-9, and move into a tie for first place— after trailing by 14 games earlier in the season.
October 2, 1978 “Bucky Fucking Dent!” The words of thenRed Sox manager Don Zimmer as he stopped suddenly during his drive from Boston to Tampa following the Red Sox loss to the Yanks in a one-game divisional playoff at Fenway. The light-hitting shortstop had hit a three-run homer— into that net placed atop the Green Monster in 1936— that turned the tide in New York’s 5-4 victory. The Yankees hold on for the dramatic win when Lou Pinella makes one of the greatest-ever defensive nonplays. In the ninth inning, the left fielder loses Jerry Remy’s line drive in the late afternoon sun, but by feigning that he had it, deked base runner Rick Burleson, who stayed at second base.
October 5, 1986 Wade Boggs sits out his fourth game in a row— all in a season-ending series with the Yankees— as Don Mattingly attempts to catch him in the AL batting race. Boggs claims to be nursing a sore hamstring, but one New York tabloid blares CHICKENED OUT. The Yankee first baseman bats in the leadoff position, needing to go 6 for 6. He goes 2 for 5 and ends up at .352, five points behind Boggs.