100 years later, Harvard takes swings at Fenway
Although the 100th anniversary of the first official game at Fenway Park has been receiving headlines recently, few Red Sox fans are aware that the first game of any kind at the baseball shrine was 11 days earlier in 1912, against Harvard College.
On Monday, the current Harvard team took batting practice at Fenway to mark the 100th anniversary of the 2-0 Red Sox exhibition game victory over the Crimson on April 9, 1912, one of several events being held to celebrate the park’s centennial.
“I’d be lying if I told you I was trying to hit ground balls right now,’’ said junior infielder Kyle Larrow of Carver, as he waited by home plate for his turn to take some swings. “It’s incredible.’’
Harvard coach Joe Walsh, a Dorchester native, said his team was honored to participate. He said that all of his players, whether they come from the Boston area or not, understand the rich history of Fenway.
“For all of them, Fenway Park means baseball,’’ Walsh said.
His remarks were punctuated by the ping of the aluminum bats used by the college players, something those long-ago Sox would have undoubtedly viewed as a strange invention.
The day also took on a vintage feel when a former Red Sox player and Harvard alumnus, Mike Stenhouse, and Harvard player Marcus Way donned old-time uniforms.
Sophomore outfielder Jack Colton of Milton was one of the players who sent a pitch sailing over the Green Monster during batting practice, taking advantage of the added pop of his metal bat, which players use in college but not in the professional ranks, where wooden bats are required.
“This is awesome,’’ Colton said. “This is a dream come true to be out here taking BP at Fenway.’’
Also Monday, Mayor Thomas M. Menino took his annual tour of the park, taking in new exhibitions, the team said in a statement.
As part of his tour, Menino saw the 18,500 newly laid bricks inside entrance Gates B and C that bear messages from fans across Red Sox Nation, the statement said.
He also toured the new 6,000-square-foot Royal Rooters Club & Home of the Nation’s Archives, which features more than 100 historical items from the team collection and from fans.
“As a lifelong Red Sox fan, Fenway holds a special place in my heart, as I’m sure it does for every Bostonian,’’ Menino said in the statement.
Events to mark the centennial include a free open house for fans on April 19, and a pregame ceremony the following day to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the team’s first regular-season game at Fenway, according to the Red Sox website.
That game in 1912 was a 7-6 victory against the New York Yankees, then the Highlanders, in a rivalry that few observers would say has lessened in intensity over the last 10 decades.
The Yankees will be the opposing team at Fenway on April 20, and both clubs will wear throwback uniforms, according to the Red Sox website.
Walsh said the significance of Monday’s event was not lost on his student-athletes.
“It’s a very special day for everybody here,’’ Walsh said. “Bringing my team in here, we’ve got guys from the Boston area, we’ve got guys from all over the country, and I know each one of them is very thrilled to be . . . a part of it.
“Just trying to think that 100 years ago, this place almost looked the same, it’s just a thrill.’’