The First Fenway Park?

Bernie Carbohydrate

writes the Semi-Fin
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Dec 2, 2001
3,662
South Carolina via Dorchestah
Most of us know that prior to the 1912 opening of Fenway Park, the Red Sox played at the Huntington Avenue Grounds, long since demolished.

In the nineteenth century, the Fenway area was, literally, a back water. Famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead designed a park for the area, built in 1879, known as the Back Bay Fens --now a feature of "The Emerald Necklace."

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Eventually, the boggy areas around the park were filled and the City of Boston started to expand westward.

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Locals took to calling this area “The Fenway Park.” For example, in an 2/11/1907 article about traffic congestion in the Back Bay (ha!), the author proposes that “the barrier of the Fenway park could be broken by the extenuation of Westland av., the relocation of Boylston street, and the construction of a cross street from the new art museum to the Five Corners on Beacon st.”

On 8/8/1908 “the body of a nude woman” was spotted in “the Fenway park,” and a crowd gathered to watch as the Muddy River was dredged.

So what to make of this Boston Sunday Globe piece from August 24, 1902?

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Our Fenway park would not be built for another ten years. There must have been a field suitable for baseball somewhere in the Olmsted park itself. “The Auburns of Cambridge” must have agreed to meet “the Mystics of Medford” (great name!) “at Fenway park” because it was an available neutral site.

Anyway, next time you’re at trivia and the question is “When was Fenway park built?” you could say “1879” and get punched, but you’d be kinda right.
 

Pablo's TB Lover

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Sep 10, 2017
4,428
Thanks for sharing, I always like diving into historical neighborhoods and how an area's geography came to be.
 

Scriblerus

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Apr 1, 2009
1,367
Boston, MA
My office building is basically on what was the infield grass at the polo grounds. There’s a statute of Cy Young out the door and home plate is 60’6” away from him.

I had never considered baseball being played in the Fens before the polo grounds, so thanks for the history lesson.