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RED SOX vs. YANKEES: The Great Rivalry
By Harvey Frommer
The roots of the rivalry extend all
the way back to the first time the teams faced-off on May 7, 1903 at the
Huntington Avenue Grounds in Boston. They weren't the Yankees and Red Sox
then but instead had more geographically correct names: the Highlanders --
they played on the hilly terrain of upper
that first game, 6-2 as well as
baseball's inaugural World Series
It was damp and chilly throughout New England for most of the spring of 1912. Boston fans hungered to break in their new ballpark against their rivals from New York in decent weather. It took a few tries before that happened.
On April 9th, the Red Sox and Harvard's baseball team faced off in an exhibition game in football weather with a little snow on the side,as one who was there said. Before but 3,000 braved the elements, Boston won,2-0.
The scheduled official Opening Day match on April 12th,however, was rained out. Finally on April 20th, thre was a bit better weather. Fenway's first major league game: the Sox versus the Yankees (then known as the Highlanders because they played on higher ground in the Bronx), was on tap. A crowd of 27,000 showed up. Soggy, sad looking grounds greeted them and infield grass transplanted from the Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds, the teams former home.
Boston Mayor John "Honey
Fitz" Fitzgerald, whose grandson would become the thirty-fifth president
The game (opening day at brand a brand new park, New York against Boston)would have been the stuff of front-page headlines in New England newspapers. But six days earlier the news of the sinking of the Titanic on its maiden voyage and the loss of 1,517 lives, was still eclipsing all other stories.
Owner General Charles Henry Taylor, a Civil War veteran and owner of the "Boston Globe," had decided back in 1910 to build a new ballpark in the Fenway section bordering Brookline Avenue, Jersey Street, Van Ness Street and Lansdowne Street. It cost $650,000 (approximately $14 million today), and seated 35,000.
An appealing red brick façade, the first electric baseball scoreboard, and 18 turnstiles, the most in the big leagues were all talked about. Concrete stands went from behind first base around to third while wooden bleachers were located in parts of left, right, and centerfield. Seats lined the field allowing for excellent views of the game but limiting the size of foul territory.
Elevation was 20 feet
above sea level. Barriers and walls broke off at different angles. Centerfield
was 488 feet from home plate; right field was
314 feet away. The 10-foot wooden fence in left field ran straight
This was the Opening Day Lineup for the 1912 Boston Red Sox.
The Sox nipped the Yankees, 7-6, in 11 innings. Tris Speaker drove in the winning run for the home team. Spitball pitcher Bucky OBrien got the win in relief of Charles Sea Lion Hall. New York's Harry Wolter smacked the first hit in the new park.
Umpire Tommy Connolly kept the ball used in that historic game, writing Opening of Fenway Park and brief details of the game on it. And that was how the storied and stormy Red Sox Versus Yankees Great Rivalry started. It has never ended.
About the Author
Dr. Harvey Frommer received his Ph.D. from New York University. Professor Emeritus, Distinguished Professor nominee, Recipient of the "Salute to Scholars Award" at CUNY where he taught writing for many years, the prolific author was cited by the Congressional Record and the New York State Legislature as a sports historian and journalist.
His sports books include autobiographies of sports legends Nolan Ryan, Red Holzman and Tony Dorsett, the classics "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," "New York City Baseball: 1947-1957 (original issue)." The 1927 Yankees." His "Remembering Yankee Stadium" was published to acclaim in 2008. His latest book, a Boston Globe Best Seller, is "Remembering Fenway Park." Autographed and discounted copies of all Harvey Frommer books are available direct from the author. Please consult his home page: http://harveyfrommersports.com/remembering_fenway/