Fenway Park, founded in 1912, is America’s oldest active ballpark. It is one of just two parks that pre-dates the 1960’s, the other being Wrigley Field in Chicago (1914). Named after the Fenway neighborhood in Boston, the ballpark resides just outside of Kenmore Square. It has been home to the Boston Red Sox since its opening, during which time have won 6 World Series titles (1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, 2004, and most recently 2007). The stadium also hosted the Boston Redskins of the National Football League prior to their move to Washington in 1937.
Among the most iconic of the parks’ features is the “Green Monster”, the wall in left field which stands 37 feet, 2 inches off the ground, put in place in 1934. The scoreboard on the wall is the last remaining manually-operated scoreboard in professional baseball. There are other significant features in the park as well. A red seat in the outfield bleachers marks the longest home run ever hit at Fenway, by Hall of Famer Ted Williams. Additionally, both foul poles at Fenway have names attached to them. “Pesky’s Pole”, in right field, is named after former Red Sox shortstop Johnny Pesky. “Fisk’s Pole”, in left field, is named after former Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk.
There are eight numbers retired by the Red Sox that hang along the upper deck in right field: 1 (Joe Cronin); 4 (Bobby Doerr); 6 (Johnny Pesky); 8 (Carl Yastrzemski); 9 (Ted Williams); 14 (Jim Rice); 27 (Carlton Fisk); and 42 (Jackie Robinson, who’s number is retired by all 30 Major League teams). In recent years, Fenway has begun hosting outdoor hockey games, including the NHL’s “Winter Classic” between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers on January 1, 2010. More recently, in 2012, Fenway Park opened its doors for “Frozen Fenway”, in which several local collegiate and high school hockey teams got the chance to play.
Don't expect to find tickets on the cheap the day of a game - every game at Fenway Park has sold out since May 15, 2003 (a span of over 700 consecutive sellouts), the longest streak in MLB history. Not surprisingly, the average price of a ticket at Fenway, as of the 2011 season, is $52.32. Scalper prices are insanely high, as are most ticket agencies (i.e. AceTicket, Stubhub). The only ballpark with a higher average cost of ticket is Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs. Additionally, seating capacity at Fenway is just over 39,000, making it the second smallest park in the league in terms of capacity (behind the new Marlins Park in Miami). For these reasons, tickets should be purchased in advance online, over the phone, or at the ticket office. As with other major league baseball teams, package deals for out of town visitors including food and lodging. Tours are available, but travelers wanting to organize their own accommodations will find many other options available as well.
Boston has a rather high cost of living, well over the national average, and this can be reflected in the cost of food and beverages within the city. Coupled with the fact that the Fenway area itself is a tourist destination, you can expect to pay high prices for refreshments in and around the park. Pack a water bottle and some food to save money. Sealed water bottles are allowed inside the park, but that is all.
Comfortable walking shoes are a must for exploring the Fenway-Kenmore area, and during the summer hats, sunscreen and sunglasses will help to protect against sunburn. Although summer can be quite warm in New England, evening temperatures are often chilly, so packing a light sweatshirt or jacket is probably a good idea. If you're unfamiliar with Boston you'll want to bring a map; Boston can be difficult to navigate even for natives. Stations for the Boston subway are denoted by a large “T” (for MBTA), and maps with the layout of the entire city can be found on the MBTA website. Visitors who wish to explore the city at large using the “T” will need to purchase a “Charlie” ticket or re-loadable card (both are available from kiosks at all “T” stops.) “Charlie” tickets are $2 one-way, although if you use a Charlie Card they are discounted about $0.30.
Upon entering Boston, the best way to access Fenway Park is via the MBTA subway system. It’s known by locals as “The T”. There are five different colored lines in Boston: the Green, Red, Blue, Orange, and Silver. The Green Line takes you the closest to Fenway, with stops at Kenmore Square and another stop Fenway. This is deceiving, however, as the Kenmore stop is much closer. If you are getting on the Green Line from a different colored line, it gets a tad confusing, so bear with me. The Green Line has “B”, “C”, “D”, and “E” lines that spread out throughout various locations in Boston. As long as you get on any line B-D, you’ll wind up at Kenmore, but “E” will overshoot you to the Fenway stop. Remember, the Fenway stop is actually further away from the park than Kenmore is.
You may also choose to drive into Fenway Park, although this can be expensive. You’ll be lucky to find any parking at a reasonable distance for anything less than $25-$30. However, Boston is a very walkable city, so if you don’t mind a little extra distance to save a buck or ten, it’s not all that bad. Among the areas you’ll pass through that aren’t that far from Fenway are Boston Common, Commonwealth Avenue, and Faneuil Hall (although this last one is definitely for only the avid walkers). Traffic in Boston is notorious for jamming up, so I would advise against driving altogether if possible.
Upon arriving near Fenway, there’s no need to go inside the park right away, especially if time allows it. Yawkey Way, located between Gates A and D, has become an outdoor extension of the Park. There are various vendors located along the street, which is closed off to traffic. There are also plenty of souvenir stores inside. Once you enter through the Yawkey Way gates, however, there is no re-admittance. Another option is to travel down Landsdowne Street, located behind the Green Monster between Gates E and C. There are more vendors located along this street, as well as an entrance to the “Cask n’ Flagon”, rated the no. 2 baseball bar in America by ESPN. The official Red Sox souvenir shop is also located along Landsdowne. Visitors interested in learning about the history and layout of the park can take a guided tour through Fenway before the game. The 50-minute walking tours are conducted on the hour between 10:00AM-2:00PM and cost between $10-12. If you're looking for a drink at Fenway, the Bleacher Bar is located inside the stadium itself and overlooks the field, resulting in a unique experience. The entrance is located on Landsdowne Street, which runs east-to-west on the northern side of the park's walls, across from the prominent House of Blues.
Most home games during the season are played at night, with the first pitch scheduled for around 7:10, so by 6:45 or so you probably want to start thinking about heading inside. Seating inside the stadium is a bit cramped in comparison to other ballparks. Remember, it was built back in 1912 when the average size of a person wasn’t quite as big as it is today. A lot of the seats are very old and rickety, especially those found in the grandstand. Seats in newer sections that have been built, such as the Green Monster seats and the State Street Pavilion, are much more modernized and comfortable.
Once the game begins, out of courtesy you should not leave your seats except for in between innings or during a pitching change, except for emergencies. Vendors come around the stadium with various items anyways, so usually it is not even required to leave your seats to go and get food or a drink. Fenway Park is expensive, so make sure you come with a full wallet. The average beer costs around $8 per cup, while sodas are usually around $5. Fenway Park’s hot-dogs, known as “Fenway Franks”, can still be had at reasonable prices around $3. Fenway Park is also known for its Italian sausages, which will run you around $7. Like any other ballpark, Fenway sells peanuts, Cracker Jacks, popcorn, cotton candy, ice cream, etc. The costs on these items vary, but plan on paying around $4 for most.
Souvenir stands also exist inside Fenway Park, much like the stores outside. Obviously the selection is a bit smaller, but the prices remain the same: high. A hat runs about $30, as does a T- shirt. Other more expensive items, such as game jerseys and sweatshirts, are also sold. Lots of other novelty items exist as well, ranging from pennants to baseball cards to bobble heads.
During the 7th inning of a game, just like in any other stadium, Fenway Park participates in the 7th inning stretch, where “God Bless America” is sung. Another late game ritual comes in the middle of the 8th inning, where Red Sox fans jam out to “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond. After the game is over, if the Red Sox win, “Dirty Water” by the Standells is played. If they lose, generic organ music is performed. After the game, there are a number of bars and restaurants open in the Fenway neighborhood. If you're looking for music, Landsdowne Street is home to Bill's Bar and the House of Blues, popular destinations both for national acts and up and coming local and touring bands.
Places to Eat Before and After the Game
Bleacher Bar: Lying beneath the bleachers in center field is newest addition to Fenway, Bleachers Bar. A unique bar, offering great american cuisine and drinks with an unprecedented baseball experience. With a window that looks directly through centerfield and into the park, you will not find another bar that offers this experience. This restaurant is great for families with children, dining on a budget and the bar scene. With its location occurring in Fenway Park, this is one of the most popular and convenient restaurants to visit before or after the game.
Sweet Cheeks: Sweet Cheeks is an American South restaurant serving authentic Texas barbecue with southern sides. Located on 1381 Boylston street, this restaurant is right outside of Fenway Park and appeals to everyone in the family, even the kids. Sweet Cheeks serves all classic barbecue dishes from homemade mac and cheese to a pulled pork sandwich. No matter what your taste is you will find something worth while on this menu.This restaurant is very reasonable price wise with meals ranging from $11-$30.
Thornton's Fenway Grill: Thornton's Fenway Grill located on 100 Peterborough St. is known for their American food, bar food, and delicious burgers. Only open for dinner and lunch this restaurant is a favorite to dine at before a Red Sox game. With reasonable prices from $11-$30 this menu offers a choice for everyone. The menu ranges from your classic chicken fingers to grilled salmon. It is also said that this restaurant is a very relaxing atmosphere after attending one of the big games.
Tasty Burger: An American classic restaurant located right outside of Fenway Park and open from 11am-2am for all those late night eaters after the game. This is one of the most popular places to visit before and after a game because they serve milkshakes, burgers, fries and hotdogs for under $10. This is a very family friendly restaurant serving kid friendly food but also a quick place to grab a bite after drinking at the game. After a Red Sox game this restaurant tends to get a little more packed so if you plan to go head towards the Boylston St. directly from the park.
Boston Beer Works: Located right outside of Fenway on Brookline Ave, Boston Beer Works is a great way to start or end your day at Fenway. Opening at 11am and closing at 1am this restaurant offers a great place to grab some traditional American food as well as a great place to keep the party going after an exciting game at Fenway. This restaurant offers a huge selection beer and a smaller selection of wine. The food ranges from appetizers, chicken sandwiches, burgers and more. Nothing on the menu is too fancy and it just sticks to the classic American food. Like most other restaurants in Boston the prices are reasonably fair staring at $11 and going to about $30.
Red Sox fans have a reputation as rowdy and boisterous (and often aggressive), but this often overstated. Fans of opposing teams will find their Bostonian counterparts to be mostly good-spirited. However, fans of rival team the New York Yankees are likely to hear chants of “Yankees Suck” after a game between the two, and as in all situations, alcohol can be an aggravating factor. Avoiding unnecessary confrontations with particularly aggressive Boston fans is well-advised.
Fenway Park is a major tourist destination in Boston, so the surrounding area is mostly well policed and marked. However, like other cities, some general rules still apply. At night, walking with a companion or group is preferable. Boston's more dangerous neighborhoods (Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan) contain no tourist attractions, and are sufficient distance from the park that you won't have to worry about crossing over into them. Similar to other destinations which attract large amounts of people, petty theft can become an issue around Fenway - being aware of your surroundings will help to reduce the chance that an opportunistic thief will “relieve you” of your property. The crime rate in Boston is lower than most comparably sized cities, although still higher than in the surrounding suburbs.
Once the game is over, the streets surrounding Fenway become mobbed with people heading in various directions. If you don’t want to deal with a crowded subway, you may want to walk from Fenway to Park Street or Downtown Crossing, hubs where the Red and Green lines meet. At Downtown Crossing, additionally, the Orange Line is in play, increasing your post-game options.
Another common form of leaving Fenway is by hitching a cab, or by taking a “pedi-cab”, the bicycle riders with a sort of chariot attached to the back. These riders operate on tip only; depending on how far they are taking you, it is usually a good idea to toss them $20-$25.