10,454

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. 

boston-fenway-park-sunsetThe Red Sox just celebrated their 500th consecutive sellout.  Worth celebrating, considering the economy, and the small fortune it costs for parking, tickets, hot dogs, and beers. 

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.

Huh?

My brother and I looked at each other, and decided Jesus wanted us to sit in the best seats we could sneak into. 

Amen.

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About Gerry

I've been covering Connecticut news and sports since 1974. I know, I don't look that old.
This entry was posted in It's all about me, Living in the Past, Noticed, People, Sports and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to 10,454

  1. #2 says:

    Good memories, i tell people that we used to spend all of .50 cents to get a bleacher seat or go large for the .75 cent reserved grandstand, they look at me like i’m crazy ( possible).
    Eat some dogs,soda, popcorn and still give Dad change from the $5.00 bucks.
    You’re right Worthington was a stiff, his card went right into the bicycle spokes, so it had some use.

  2. Gerry says:

    You know, I’d forgotten that the first thing he asked after the game was not, “How was the game?” but, “Where’s my change?” (With a smile, of course.)

  3. Graham says:

    Those were the days before “internet” ticketing. Mr. Curtin, our neighbor in Milton, worked as a ticket seller in one of the little booths just outside the park. We’d take the trolley from Milton Lower Mills to Ashmont. The the subway to Park, then a trolley to Fenway, all for 20 cents each way!
    Then we’d go find Mr. Curtin and ask him which booth had best, (cheapest) seats that day and run over there to get some. My mother would make us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to eat on the subway in and then we’d buy a Coke for the rest of the afternoon. About the 7th inning we’d go for a dog and that would get us through the rest of the day. Reverse the subway/trolley thing and most days still be home for dinner. All for a few bucks.
    We all had little jobs, and spent our money wisely. Even now, on the odd occasion someone gives us tickets to a game, I think we probably had more fun as kids going on our own to Fenway and as Gerry says, finding the best seats the ushers let us sit in than anyone has now.
    Ah, for the good ole days!

  4. It’s a cliche, but what the heck:

    I’ll never forget my first Fenway Park visit. My dad took me and I had one of those experiences that’s been written about a zillion times. Walked up the ramp from the dungeon like concession area near the turnstiles. Saw, for the very first time, the green monster, grass greener than I’d ever seen it. The Sox were taking batting practice. Whitest white uniforms I’d ever seen. Reddest red trim and those stockings. It was like walking into some kind of cathedral. A mystical experience if there ever was one.

    Years later, around 1998, I went to Fenway again. Hadn’t been there since 72. Walked up that same ramp…

    First thing I saw was Cal Ripkin shilling something on that God awful screen that looks out towards the playing field like something out of Orwell’s 1984. An ex Oriole, his face as big as a house, was what greeted me that night.

    Fenway’s still a magical place. But somewhat less magical than it was when I was a kid attending my very first game there.

  5. Gerry says:

    Great reminiscences, gentlemen. And I don’t think anyone has seen grass so green as the very first time they walked up the ramp to the field.

  6. #2 says:

    Don’t forget the first time you used the rest rooms and saw the horse trough’s

  7. Gerry says:

    I didn’t forget, but decided to forego the subject. But as long as you bring it up…

  8. I rember going to the ball games at yankee stadium when I was young . Me and my friends would take a 3 hour bus ride to go from Pennsylivina. Yes it was exciting and I Loved that time of my life.

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