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The Boston Globe

Sports

From the archives | April 20

Red Sox christen Fenway Park with win over New York

The scene outside Fenway Park on April 20, 1912.

Courtesy of National Baseball Hall of Fame

The scene outside Fenway Park on April 20, 1912.

Boston’s beautiful new ball park in the Fenway was opened before a crowd of 24,000 spectators.

There was no time wasted in childish parades. Mayor Fitzgerald dignified the occasion by tossing out the new ball and the Speed Boys and Highlanders were soon at it … [until] Tristam Speaker, the Texas sharpshooter, with two down in the 11th inning and Steve Yerkes, on third, smashed the ball too fast for the shortstop to handle and the winning run came over the plate, making the score 7 to 6, and the immense crowd leaving for home for a cold supper, but wreathed in smiles to see the Speed Boys come from behind and by dint of staying prowess land the victory.

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The day was ideal. The bright sun brought out the bright colors of the flags and bunting that decorated the big grandstand, and gave the new uniforms of the players a natty look. Before the game started, the crowd broke into the outfield and remained behind the ropes, forcing the teams to make ground rules, and all hits going to two bases.

This ruling was a big disadvantage to the home team, for the Highland laddies never hit for more than a single, while three of Boston’s hits went into the crowd, whereas with a clear field they would have gone for three-base drives and possibly home runs, and would have landed the home team a winner before the ninth inning.

Game full of interest

While the grounds were in fair condition, there were spots where the earth was soft and lumpy, and this caused fumbling that would have never occurred on a dry field.

The visitors piled up five runs in short order through the misplays around the infield and unlooked-for wildness by “Buck” O’Brien. The Red Sox made it very plain at the start that they were out to make a game fight to a finish, for they scored one run in the first on spanking doubles by Yerkes and Speaker.

The Highlanders were eager to break into the winning column, while Boston, well in the lead, was not willing to take a beating. From a spectator’s viewpoint the game was full of interest. There was the base on balls, the wild pitch, the ball and the hit by a pitched ball, until the “Take him out” man grew red in the face from his exertions.

This box score of the first game in Fenway Park appeared in the Boston Globe on April 21, 1912.

This box score of the first game in Fenway Park appeared in the Boston Globe on April 21, 1912.

There was also the fumble, Yerkes making no fewer than three of them, but he was forgiven, for he was stinging the ball in a phenomenal way, turning in five hits in succession, all of them pretty drives, and two doubles in the bunch. There was some grand outfielding by Lewis, Hooper, Daniels and young Zinn.

Time after time a base hit would have settled the game, but each team pulled out. The visitors changed pitchers when the box man displayed signals of distress. All were pitching fairly good ball, but those Speed Boys would connect and tie up the score. However, the home team never led until the finish.

The game was full of interest, the crowd holding its seats to the end, figuring that the Red Sox would eventually nose out the Broadway swells.

Hall to the rescue

With the score 5 to 4 against the home team, Charley Hall relieved O’Brien in the fifth and put new life into the Stahl boys. In fact, Hall scored the tying run in the sixth. He was also on second in the ninth, with one down, as the result of a fine double, and cam within an ace of scoring the winning run when Zinn made a remarkable catch of a fierce drive by Speaker. Hall pitched a masterly game, holding the visitors to three singles in seven innings.

While all of the old Boston players were given a warm hand as they came to the plate, the real old-fashioned welcome remained for Manager Jake Stahl, and while Sir Jacob miscued three times, he finally came across with a ringing two-bagger that sent Yerkes home with the tying run in the eighth and brought the crowd to its feet. With a clear field, Stahl’s hit would have been good for a home run and the game.

The visitors fought hard, but were indeed lucky to come as near as they did to taking a game from the Speed Boys. Hal Chase and Earl Gardner put up some fine baseball around the infield. Daniels did some remarkable ground-covering in the outer garden, and Zinn showed that he was a real ball player.

Harry Wolter was badly injured while sliding into second, and was carried off the field with a sprained ankle, which is bound to weaken the Highlanders.

Pres Frank Farrell of the New York club saw the game from a box just back of his players, but disappeared after Boston tied the score in the eighth. He had seen these Boston lads before, and felt they were once more after the blue ribbon.

Pres McAleer and his friend “Hap” Ward never lost heart, even when the Red Sox were trailing. McAleer’s one remark was, “My boys will hit the game out yet.” The Boston Braves were represented by “Duke” Farrell,” “Cy” Young and C. James Connolly.

The park was crowded with veteran ball players and fans, and everyone praised the new park, which is a model in every way.

Boston catches up

With one down in the sixth, Chase was safe on Wagner’s low throw to first. Hartzell walked. Daniels forced him and then stole second. Dolan flied out to Speaker.

Hall drew a pass, and was sacrificed to second by Hooper. Yerkes singled, making his fourth hit of the game. Hall was held at third. Speaker was passed intentionally, filling the bases and bringing it up to Jake Stahl.

The first ball Jake let alone and he fouled off the second one. The infield closed in for a double play. The next ball Jake hit too hot for the pitcher to handle, but he was thrown out by E. Gardner, Hall scoring the tying run.A hit would now send in two runs, but L. Gardner hit weakly to the pitcher for an out at first.

The visitors went out in order in the seventh. With two down, Nunamaker was hit by a pitched ball, but Hall flied out to center.

In the eighth Hall covered first and took Stahl’s toss on Zinn’s grounder. Wolter drew a pass and stole second, Nunamaker throwing to center field.

Wolter turned his ankle while going into the bag and was carried off the field, Kauff running for him. Hall threw to get his man napping and hit the runner, the ball rolling to the outfield, and Kauff slipping to third., from where he scored on a single by Chase, who was thrown out by Lewis when he tried for two bases on the hit. Hartzell was thrown out by Yerkes.

With one down, Yerkes singled. Speaker flied out to Daniels. Stahl doubled to center, scoring Yerkes, and how the crowd did cheer as the score was again tied. Hartzell fumbled L. Gardner’s grounder. Lewis was passed, filling the bases, but Wagner hit in front of the plate and was thrown out at first.

In the ninth Daniels sent a low liner that Lewis made a swell running-in catch of. Dolan was thrown out by Hall, and E. Gardnder went down by the same route.

Nunamaker got in his third strike-out. Hall hit into the crowd at center for two bases. Vaughn, a left-hander, here came in to pitch. Hooper walked. Yerkes fouled out to Street. Speaker drove a fierce liner that Zinn just managed to reach and hang on to.

Street opened the 10th with a single, but was forced at second. Zinn flied out to Hooper, and Kauff was thrown out.

Jake Stahl sent up a long fly for Daniels. L. Gardner singled. Lewis struck out. Wagner singled, sending Gardner to third, and then he stole second. Engle batted for Nunamaker and was thrown out at first.

Chase opened the 11th with a single. Hartzell hit to Yerkes for a force out. Daniels was thrown out by Carrigan. E. Gardner walked, but Street hit to Wagner for a force-out.

Hall opener for Boston with a strike-out, and Hooper sent up a foul fly for Street. Yerkes rolled a slow one that Dolan gathered in on the run and threw over Chase’s head, Yerkes landing on second. He made third on a passed ball. At first Vaughn intended to pass Tris Speaker, then changed his mind and tried to sneak one over. But the Texas boy smashed the ball past short, and Yerkes scored the winning run.

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