Green Monster at Fenway Park
Baseball, Travel

Ballpark Review: Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox)

Our experience at Fenway was a long but memorable one. We started early with a tour, lucked into getting to go onto the field to take selfies with the players, and then experienced a remarkable 11-inning Big Papi walk-off victory. A historical stadium capped with an amazing game showcasing Big Papi made this one ballpark visit we won’t forget.

Design

The most well-known feature of Fenway is the Green Monster. We scored a sweet deal by signing up for the Red Sox Nation, which includes getting to watch batting practice from the Green Monster. Unfortunately they didn’t have batting practice that day due to a fan photo session on the field. Instead, we had a barren stadium virtually to ourselves and then got to go onto the field. There are 269 seats above the Green Monster, which are akin to metal bar stools.

Panorama1

Fenway Park - Field Level Panoramic

Fenway is the oldest Major League Baseball stadium at 104 years old. The aged brick throughout the stadium is a fitting emulation of the Red Sox colors and long history. The retro stadium lights are impressive with ladders for climbing to change lights. It has an old, unrefined feel – similar to our experience at Wrigley. Despite being older, Fenway has better field views. Though the stadium was built in 1912, most of its current iconic look came about as part of a 1934 renovation. Though owner Tom Yawkey was already making enormous upgrades to the stadium that offseason, a fire that destroyed many of the new seating areas meant even more renovations were needed—from extending the grand stand to building the not-yet-green Monster in left field.

outside3Fenway still has a manual scoreboard which is positioned at the base of the Green Monster. There is a small enclosed single-file hallway behind the scoreboard for people to update the scoreboard. It takes three people to operate, and the national league section is separate, so the person has to come out onto the field with a ladder between innings to update it.

Scoreboard

We really liked their three electronic video boards, which mimic the retro style of the classic scoreboard. The photo doesn’t do it justice—it really looks like a natural extension of the manually-operated scoreboard.

video

The press box is very iconic with the American flag right in the middle and World Series and Pennants across the front.

Press box2

The stadium capacity is 37,949, making it not only the oldest stadium in the majors, but one of the smallest as well. There are 13,000 blue seats from 1934 that the Red Sox have kept throughout the years. They’re tiny by today’s wide load standards, but the historical significance was really cool.

Blue seats

The most famous seat at Fenway is red amidst a sea of green. It marks the longest home run ever hit at Fenway Park, by Ted Williams at 502 feet in 1946.

Red seat

Of course, the stadium looked a little different back then:

Ted Williams 502-foot home run

The skyline view from the stadium is basically the “landmark” CITGO sign… There are a few skyscrapers that peak out from the right field side with a nice view from the upper decks. The view is unfortunately obstructed from the lower levels.

Top view

Citgo

Renovations have definitely improved the functionality. The bleacher seats used to be separate, but are now connected. Although you still cannot do a full loop. There is also only one level with food offerings and has small walkways. It’s pretty crowded and lines were long. The retro food signs are really awesome and are supplemented with modern digital menus.

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Signs

Location

Fenway is close to the heart of Boston and within walking distance of the Boston Common and Garden. We used Uber in Boston and did not have any difficulty reaching Fenway. We made the easy walk to the Boston Common and felt safe in the surrounding area. There is parking nearby and public transit available via the MBTA subway.

Outside

Concessions

There are really only three unique foods at Fenway, and we had two of them (Lobster Roll and Fried Dough Sundae, skipping the Clam Chowder). They were adequate, but as the previous stadium we visited (AT&T Park) was off-the-charts amazing in the food category, the overall food selection and quality at Fenway disappointed.

Lobster Roll – Good for ballpark food.

Fenway Frank – The “bun” was a piece of bread, but it tasted all right. They have vendors serve these in the stands, too.

Fried dough

Fried Dough Sundae – Basically a funnel cake with soft-serve. Not really our thing, but hard to resist anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other food options included Tasty Burger, Fenway Fish Shack (local seafood cooked to order), Fenway World Fare (Mexican and Chinese), Summertime Grill (Fenway Franks, footlong hot dogs, Philly cheesesteaks, and sausages), and El Tiante (Cuban sandwich).

The unique Bleacher Bar has an entrance from outside with a view into the stadium from center field right next to the bullpen.

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The drink selection was typical with domestic beers, some craft beers, and a few mixed drink stands.

Amenities

One of the coolest amenities is Yawkey Way. It is blocked off for the game so fans can eat food and hang out in the area. It helps release some of the congestion in the narrow stadium walkways. The main team store is quite large and can be accessed from here. They also have some fun entertainers, like a baseball player on stilts.

Stilts

We loved the Fenway Farms garden and restaurant. This reminded us of the AT&T Park Garden Table and Hearth and their hydroponic garden.

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Of course the Green Monster seats are a very special amenity only available at Fenway.

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Wally’s Clubhouse has plenty of entertainment and kid-friendly activities open from the 3rd to 7th innings. It even has a special quiet area for the autistic. Activities include appearances from Wally, face painting, caricatures, balloon artist, magician, toddler slide and play area, beanbag toss, and Wii.

There’s also a Kids Concourse with other fun activities including a virtual reality dugout and speed pitch.

Amenities

amenities2

There were lots of charging stations and great cellular service. There were a decent number of restrooms – quality was sufficient but there were not enough sinks. With most older stadiums, the seats were small with minimal leg space and no cup holders.

Culture

The overall atmosphere was very lively with Papi chants rampant throughout the game. Fans were very friendly and gave advice on food. Unfortunately, there was no organist and the speaker system was not very loud. Traditions of playing Sweet Caroline in the 8th inning and the Dropkick Murphys’ Shipping Up to Boston in the 9th and Tessie after the win were really fun.

The mascots – Wally the Green Monster and Tessie – were quite involved throughout the game and hung out in the bleachers.

Mascot

The Red Sox let the fans onto the warning track to take selfies with the players. We got to meet Joe Kelly, one of our favorite former Cardinals. He was super friendly and lived up to our expectations.

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Integration of franchise history in game and design was very evident. The World Series banners on Yawkey Way nicely depict the team history.

YawkeyRetired numbers are listed on the right field overhang in order of retirement. There is a teammate statue grouping of Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky (namesake of the RF Pesky Pole), Bobby Doerr and Dom DiMaggio.


Celebrations of monumental moments (i.e. home runs, wins, player milestones) weren’t over the top – fireworks for Papi’s home run and posts on the screens. Thanks to Joe Kelly, Big Papi got a face full of flour after his game-winning double. The fans were diligent and most stuck around for the 11th inning. Here are our videos of Ortiz’s game-tying 9th inning triple and Ortiz’s historic walk-off double.

Big Papi Big Papi2

Summary & Scoring

Date Visited: Saturday, May 14, 2016
Game Played: Boston 6, Houston 5. This was an amazing game, very similar to Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. In his final season, David Ortiz had a game-tying triple in the bottom of the ninth and a walk-off double in the 11th. With that game winning double (his 600th), Big Papi joined Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds as the 3rd player to have 600 doubles and 500 home runs. Box Score
Design: 4.25 Stars – Oldest stadium in baseball with iconic green monster and many retro features
Location: 4 Stars – Close to the heart of Boston within walking distance of the Boston Common and Garden
Concessions: 3 Stars – Some unique foods (lobster roll and fried dough sundae), but not overly impressed with quality
Amenities: 3.5 Stars – Many impressive amenities including Yawkey Way, Green Monster seats, Wally’s Clubhouse and Kids Concourse, and Fenway Farms garden and restaurant
Culture: 5 Stars – Enthusiastic fans – cheering on Big Papi – with majority staying through the 11th inning
Overall: 4.15 Stars – Amazing historical stadium with a remarkable game showcasing Big Papi 

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