If you walk to the end of Yawkey Way you will come to the corner of Van Ness Street.
And on that corner is the Red Sox players parking lot. It was at this corner in 1961 when my dad picked me up to reach the bus window and…..
I handed this man a program and procured my first autograph.
Baltimore Oriole’s pitcher Chuck Estrada.
I’ve long since lost the program but…..
I still have my 1961 Chuck Estrada baseball card and I still root for the Orioles, except, of course, when they are playing the Red Sox.
Dominic DiMaggio heads into Fenway after parking his car in the lot on Van Ness Street for a game in 1948.
In the days of Fenway yesteryear, the players would pull into the lot, head to the entrance and encounter autograph collectors along the way. As years passed, the players became less and less accessible and today it is a veritable fortress. However, Van Ness Street itself has turned into what is tantamount to a museum.
Just pass the players lot, displayed on the brick of Fenway, are seven commemorative emblems signifying the seven World Championships won by the Boston Red Sox.
The Boston Americans won the first World Series ever, defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates five games to three in what was scheduled to be a best out of nine set.
The first in 1903 when they called the Huntington Avenue Grounds their home, and the last in 2007 when they swept the Colorado Rockies to capture their second World Championship in four years.
In between, there was drama, domination, anguish and joy.
In Fenway Park’s first season, they set a team record of 105 wins and ran away with the pennant. Their 105 wins that season remains a team record 100 years later. In the World Series, they won it four games to three yet played eight games. Game two, the first ever at Fenway Park, ended in a 6-6 tie called by darkness.
In 1914, Fenway Park saw its second World Series in two years, only the Red Sox were not in it. Their national league neighbors, known in 1914 as the “Miracle Braves” came from last place in mid July to the pennant and then swept Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s in four games. They played in the brand new Fenway Park, as their new Braves Field was under construction. For obvious reasons, this is not on display at Fenway.
In 1915, Babe Ruth joined the Red Sox rotation, going 15-6 but amazingly did not appear in the World Series won by the Red Sox in five games over the Phillies.
In 1916, young Babe Ruth established himself as the top left-handed pitcher in the game, going 23-12 and although he started but one game in the World Series; it was a complete game, 14 inning, 2-1 win in game two, still a World Series record for the longest complete game win in the Fall Classic. The Red Sox prevailed against the Brooklyn Robins in five games.
Interesting enough, the 1915 and 1916 World Series’ were played at the brand new Braves Field. So in Fenway Park’s first five seasons, four times a team from Boston made it to the World Series, but Fenway saw but two of them.
Then came 1918, a season shortened by war. Babe Ruth was now the biggest star in the game both pitching (13-7) and hitting (league leading 11 home runs). He opened the Series with a 1-0 shutout of the Cubs at Commiskey Park. He threw again in game four at Fenway winning 3-2 and giving the Red Sox a three games to one lead in a Series they clinched two days later.
The 2004 World Series brought the Boston Red Sox and Fenway Park their first World Championship in 86 years. That needs more that a paragraph and I will address that just a bit down the road!
And we’re only half way down Van Ness Street!
And so it is on this day in Fenway Park history, February 15, 2012.