Washed out of what was to have been their opening game in Washington yesterday, the Red Sox retracted their steps toward Boston last night and today, in common with the 15 other major league ball clubs, will raise the curtain on the 1934 campaign.
More than ordinary significance attached to this particular opening because it will also constitute the house warming for Tom Yawkey’s new $1,250,000 baseball property at Fenway Park. The work which has been going on all Winter between Jersey st. and Landsdowne st has been termed reconstruction, but in point of fact it has led to nothing less than a new baseball plant.
Fenway Park ready
Yesterday a corps of painters, joiners, plumbers, and other craftsmen were putting the final touches on their handiwork. Today the park will still be unfinished in spots, but it will be ready to welcome what is expected to be a good crowd, provided always that the weather shows any signs of cooperating.
Some concrete remains to be poured under the new rightfield pavilion, some paint is still to be applied to out-of-the-way nooks, but when the workmen got through rigging the hemp net to protect behind-the-plate patrons from foul tips, the last essential piece of work was done at Fenway yesterday.
Field in good shape
Virtually everything in the park, from Billy Delaney’s peanut roasting machine to the grass on the field, is new. The playing surface, incidentally, though it isn’t much to look at, is in very excellent condition despite the lateness of the Spring. The infield is firm and level and the grass between the basepaths reasonably green. The outfield is still a little on the broad side, but will undoubtedly develop with the progress of Spring.
The stands and other conveniences are such as should delight the fans. The Park still has a certain intimate quality which always characterized the place, but its seating capacity has been enlarged from 24,000 to something over 38,000.
The dinky little left field bleachers have disappeared and the grandstand now runs almost from the Landsdowne st wall to well beyond first base. There are seats for 18,000 in this part of the rebuilt park, of which 3,500 are box sears. The right field pavilion, extending around the corner in right field, has been entirely rebuilt and seats 10,000. The centerfield bleachers, working up to an apex where the old flagpole used to be, have accommodations for 9,000 more.
All these seats are approached through a greatly improved system of runways, ramps, and tunnels, making easy the comings and going of the crowd. Such things as washrooms, hot dog stands, commissary facilities have also been rebuilt to make them as up-to-date as today’s Boston Globe.
The playing field itself has also been altered. An extra row of box seats sprayed onto the field around the infield caused the shifting of home plate out from the grandstand. But no playing territory has been lost through this maneuver, because the walls bordering the field have been moved back. Indeed, Collins is authority for the statement that the park now contains 7,000 square feet more fair territory than used to be the case.
Much of this additional ground has been secured by doing away with Duffy’s Cliff in left and center field. There is still a gentle slope out there, but the bank has been cut away and the wall, still 36 feet high, now rises directly from the grass in left infield. The distances from home plate have not been shortened, but rather lengthened. It is 315 feet to the wall along the leftfield foul line. The scoreboard, still in leftfield, but now at the bottom instead of the top of the wall, now is 330 feet from home plate. The flagpole in center field is 397 feet away, and the middle of the bleachers in deep center are 420 feet from home plate. The boundary in middle rightfield is 400 feet distance and the first-base foul line runs 334 feet to its end.
Everything up to date
The needs of the players have also been attended to with the latest equipment in showers and lockers. The press has had every possibly luxury lavished upon it. The radio people will live in a goldfish bowl made of shatter proof glass, rendering them safe from both fouls balls and bullets, and the executive offices are also furnished in the vest executive manner.
Lefty Grove, who was playing solitaire in the Collins office from behind a huge black cigar yesterday afternoon, looked for all the world like a bird in a gilded cage. He expressed it very well himself when somebody asked him if he liked the park.
“I told Tom Yawkey,” said Robert Moses, looking for a black jack to put on a red queen, “all you could have done and didn’t was to line it with gold.”