Fans Speak / Joe Mock
Web Tour: Ballparks - List of MLB Ballparks and Stadiums: Alphabetically by Team, League and Year of first season. Seating capacities and field dimensions represent a typical season. Complete for 1998, some data as far back as 1884, including disbanded teams.
Fenway Dimesions Old and New
What were the playing field dimensions, including wall heights and distances, at Fenway park in Ted Williams' era and what are they today? When were they changed?
Thanks, George Austin
Joe Mock's Response
Thanks for writing. I checked out two books that are very informative in this area: Ballpark Sourcebook and Green Cathedrals. The most radical change in Fenways dimensions actually occurred a couple of years before Ted Williams rookie season. Following planned renovations and a fire, Fenway was rebuilt in 1934, removing the monstrously deep centerfield. The wall that we now know as the Green Monster was built in 1936. The Splendid Splinters rookie season was in 1939.
From 1936 through today, the dimensions in LF, LC and CF have changed very little. However, RC and RF did change when Ted came along. The relocation of the bullpens caused the distance from home to right-center to be reduced by 23 feet between Teds rookie year and his second season. The fence in front of the bullpens is 5 3 tall, which is a good bit shorter than the 8 9 wall (that was 23 farther away) that batters had to clear for a home run prior to 1940. Green Cathedrals noted that the new bullpens were nicknamed Williamsburg, since they represented a thinly disguised attempt to make it easier for Ted to hit home runs. Similarly, that same offseason saw the distance to the rightfield foul pole reduced by 28 feet.
Dont ask me why, but Williams HR production actually dropped from 31 in 39 to 23 in 40, despite the cozier dimensions in right.
And how does Fenway compare to other parks? The Area of Fair Territory or AFT is a good measurement to compare the spaciousness of one park with another. According to Ballpark Sourcebook, the AFT at Fenway is just under 99,000 square feet. I believe it is the only park in the Majors under 100,000 square feet (by comparison, Wrigley has 108,000 and Yankee Stadium has 113,000). However since you wanted to know how it would have affected Ted Williams (and until late in his career, he steadfastly remained a dead pull hitter, so he would have been aiming at right field), the AFT of just the outfield in Fenway to the right of dead center field is more than twice that to the left of centerfield. In other words, it would be harder to hit a home run to right than left at Fenway.
In addition, if you draw a line from home plate at Fenway to dead CF, the AFT to the right of the line is 54,120 square feet, while to the left its 44,410. The 54,120 would make Fenway's right-field AFT very comparable with other ballparks.
-- Joe Mock, webmaster of BASEBALLPARKS.COM and GrandSlamMall.com
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