That was the paid attendance at Fenway Park on September 28, 1960, when Ted Williams homered in his final at-bat for the Boston Red Sox.
Messrs. Henry, Werner and Lucchino have been masters of marketing and promotion since they took over the team from the Yawkey Trust in 2002. And their biggest star has been not Nomar, Manny, Pedro or Papi, but what John Updike described as that “lyric little bandbox,” Fenway Park itself. They have done a lovely job of bringing the ballpark into the late 20th century. (The place opened in 1912, so it really is impossible to bring it fully up-to-date.) It’s a tough ticket, and no Red Sox fan truly comes of age until he or she spends 9 innings with a fully craned neck in an obstructed view seat.
Dealing with Fenway crowds was rarely a problem when I was growing up. On days of day games (and there were many more of them before every game was on television), my brother and I would go into Boston with Dad, who would give us a five-dollar bill and strict instructions to walk directly from 44 Burbank St. in the Back Bay (where the family plumbing shop was) to Fenway Park. We never failed to ignore his instructions, because, after all, there was the Hotel Hemenway to walk past and gawk at the patrons…and then there was the stroll through the Victory Gardens. (And we lived to tell about it!)
Tickets? No problem. Attendance in 1965 was 652,201. For the entire season. Yup, a little more than 8,000 a game. In 1966, that jumped to 811,172, a little more than 10-thousand a game. Those were the years the two oldest Brooks boys went to a bunch of games. Buy the cheap seats, then move into the best seats the ushers would let us get away with.
But the best part was getting there early enough to watch the players arrive at the ballpark. It was huge to see George “Boomah” Scott pull in to the players’ parking lot in a brand new maroon 1966 Olds Toronado. And look, there’s newly-acquired reliever John Wyatt walking to the park. Autograph alert!
And then there was Twins reliever Al Worthington, who, I believe, forever turned me off from asking for autographs. We spotted him walking down the sidewalk, presumably coming from the Twins’ hotel, and asked him for his signature. He handed us what looked like a baseball card. But there were no year-by-year statistics on the back. Just a passage from the bible, and a note that Jesus loved us.
My brother and I looked at each other, and decided Jesus wanted us to sit in the best seats we could sneak into.