The Boston Red Sox is one of the most iconic franchises across the sporting globe. The baseball team holds a special place in the hearts of many. To celebrate their incredible 120-year history, we've compiled a list of ten 10 intriguing facts about the Boston Red Sox.
1. Why was Babe Ruth Sold to the Yankees
Almost every fan of the game has heard about the larger-than-life baseball legend Babe Ruth and how his sale to New York Yankees gave rise to the Curse of Bambino.
But very few know about why the sale was made and the exact details of one of the most shocking baseball deals in history.
Why did Red Sox owner Harry Frazee decide to trade his star player?
For one, Ruth performed dismally in the 1919 season, contributing to the Red Sox sixth-place. Ruth's fixation on batting and refusing to take the mound most of the season was the primary cause of the underperformance.
If that wasn't enough, Ruth demanded a doubling of his pay to $20,000 for the 1920 season! Then there was the issue of him regularly staying out all night partying.
Sum it up, and you'll understand why Sox owner Frazee was willing to let his star player go.
The New York Yankees had already expressed their interest in buying Ruth, and in December of 1919, when they approached Frazee again, he was ready to say yes. Just like that, Babe Ruth was off to play for the Yankees.
But it had to be a cash-only deal. When confronted about the decision, Frazee made a strong case for why he made the deal.
"I should have preferred to take players in exchange for Ruth, but no club could have given me the equivalent in men without wrecking itself, and so the deal had to be made on a cash basis. No other club could afford to give me the amount the Yankees have paid for him, and I don't mind saying I think they are taking a gamble. With this money, the Boston club can now go into the market and buy other players and have a stronger and better team in all respects than we would have had if Ruth had remained with us."
So Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for $100,000—at that time, the most money ever paid for a player. He received $25,000 in cash and three $25,000 notes that would be paid out over the next six years.
Did you know that after moving to Yankees, Ruth once almost fought with the team manager!
2. Why Harry Frazee Bought the Iconic Fenway Park
Contrary to popular belief, the $300,000 mortgage Yankees owner Jacob Rupert gave Frazee wasn't part of the Babe Ruth sale deal. Frazee did not own Fenway Park at the time of the Ruth sale.
Instead, he rented the park for $30,000 every year. However, on May 3, 1920, Frazee decided to purchase Fenway Park, and three weeks later, Jacob Ruppert of the Yankees financed the mortgage on the property.
At the time, Ban Johnson, founder and first president of the American League, was engaged in a vigorous battle with Frazee and Ruppert.
One of Ban Johnson's tactics was persuading New York Giants owner Charles Stoneham to cancel the Yankees' lease of the Polo Grounds.
That would have left the team homeless, allowing Johnson to force a sale of the Yankees. To foil this plot, Ruppert provided financial support for Frazee's purchase of Fenway Park.
In case the Yankees were locked out of Polo Grounds, they had a place to play— Fenway Park. While any attempt to do so would have certainly sparked a legal challenge from Johnson, the league president wasn't doing very well in his legal fight against the two club owners in the New York courts.
Simply put, he had been checkmated and had to abandon this specific plan.
Read this bio on Harry Frazee to learn more about his long-running battle against Ban Johnson.
3. The Green Monster Fascinating History
The Green Monster is an iconic Boston landmark and one of the most beloved in America. Standing at over 37 feet tall and stretching 231 feet wide, the origins of the wall is quite fascinating.
It was originally designed to deter cheapskates from watching the Sox play for free from the rooftops of buildings across the park.
Legend has it that Yawkey, the Red Sox owner at that time, was strolling down Lansdowne Street in Boston's downtown area when he saw that all of the bars and restaurants lined up along the road had a totally unobstructed view of the ballpark.
Deciding right then and there that no one would be watching his team play for free, Yawkey ordered the building of a wall tall enough to stop passersby from sneaking a peek at the action!
It was first built out of wood but burned down in the 1934 fire. Then it was rebuilt with concrete and tin and featured a hand-operated scoreboard, which is still in use today.
It was also completely covered up in adverts until 1947 when it was painted green as the rest of the park. This new look soon gave rise to the term "the Green Monster." The tin would later be swapped for hard plastic in 1976.
The Green Monster structure has largely remained unchanged, with the most recent development being the addition of 274 "Monster seats" prior to the 2003 season.
4. The Scoreboard isn't the Original
One standout feature of the Green Monster left-field wall is its manually operated scoreboard. Though it may look authentic, the scoreboard was redone in 2001 when the original from 1933 began to rust and deteriorate.
Counterpart Inc, a metal fabrication company based in South Dakota, was charged with making the new metal scoreboard from scratch. They also rebuilt the internal framework that holds up the scoreboard.
It was meticulously created to look as close to the original as possible. During the All-Star Break in 2001, the Red Sox quietly took out the original and put in the copy.
It's believed that the old scoreboard with its thousands of signatures from players and staff is secured at a warehouse somewhere. Where exactly we couldn't find out.
5. The Legend of the Ted Williams Seat
If you've ever been to a Boston Sox's home game, you may have noticed a lone red seat (Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21) in Fenway Park's green bleacher section.
Legend has it that Ted Williams saw Joe Boucher, a construction worker from Albany, NY, dozing off under his straw hat and decided to teach him a lesson by hitting the ball right into the right-field bleachers!
It was a perfect hit! The ball flew 502 feet, burned a hole through Boucher's hat, hit him in the head and bounced off a few feet away.
This was during the Detroit Tigers' visit to the Boston Red Sox on June 9, 1946.
Boucher later joked that the home run was a sign from the baseball gods to never root against the Red Sox. The next day the Boston Globe ran a page one photo of Boucher sticking his finger through the hole in his straw hat. The headline: "Bullseye! Ted Williams Knocks Sense Into Yankees Fan."
In 1984 Red Sox owner Haywood Sullivan decided to install a red plastic seat to commemorate Williams' unbelievable hit.
To this date, Ted Williams' 502-foot home run is still the longest in Fenway Park history.
6. "Socks" With an "X"?
Interestingly, the original Boston Red Stockings were actually a different team, now known as the Atlanta Braves. In 1907 the team announced it would remove red socks from its uniforms due to a spreading rumor that the red dye in the socks could cause infection in wounds from cleat spikes.
At the time, the Boston Red Sox was called the Americans. The team owner John I. Taylor swooped in, announcing his team would adopt red as the official team color. Taylor settled on grey uniforms trimmed in red with pale blue stockings on the road. But at home, the Red Sox would have white uniforms with bright red socks.
The red socks quickly became an iconic piece of the outfits, so naturally, the decision to change the team name was a simple one.
However, Taylor decided that "SOCKS" didn't look good when spelled out on a jersey, so he shortened it to just "RED SOX" with the six letters evenly split down the middle. From then on out, Boston's American League ball club was known as the Red Sox.
7. Game Sellout Record
The Boston Red Sox boast an incredibly loyal fan base. From May 15, 2003, to April 9, 2013, Fenway Park experienced a 100 percent attendance rate at home games.
The Boston Red Sox customarily announces that game's attendance in the press box, usually in the seventh inning or beyond. For 820 consecutive games, the announced attendance was followed by the words "sellout." The park currently has a seating capacity of 37,755 for night games.
The sellout streak, which lasted 794 regular-season games plus 26 post-season games, is the longest streak of any professional sports team. The Red Sox won two American League pennants and two World Series titles during the spectacular 10-year streak.
The previous record in Major League Baseball was 455 by the Cleveland Guardians from 1995-2001 when they won six consecutive division titles and two American League pennants.
The San Francisco Giants knocked off the Cleveland franchise to No 3 by selling out at AT&T Park for 530 regular-season games, plus 25 post-season appearances between 2010-2017.
8. The Most Famous Foul Pole
The most famous foul pole in the league is the Pesky Pole in Fenway Park. On it, you'll find thousands of signatures from fans and players alike.
This right-field foul pole is named after Johnny Pesky, one of the most beloved figures in the team's history.
Johnny Persky was a slap-hitting infielder for the Red Sox from 1942 to 1952. In a career that spanned 1,270 games (1,029 for Boston), Pesky hit 17 home runs. In fact, in his 539 games at Fenway, the left-handed-hitting Pesky hit just six home runs.
So how did the iconic piece come to be named after him?
Parnell was pitching a game in 1948 when Pesky hit a late-inning home run. Story goes that the ball came into contact with the pole as Persky won the game for Sox.
Years later, Parnell coined the term “Pesky Pole” when he became the broadcaster for the Sox in 1965. He often made reference to it in his commentary and as a result, the name stuck and the foul pole came to be known as the “Persky Pole”.
The Red Sox formalized the name "Pesky's Pole" on September 27, 2006, Pesky's 87th birthday. There's also a commemorative plaque placed at its base.
It reads, "A landmark of Fenway Park originally intended by Mel Parnell to kindly tease about the relatively short distance of his teammate's home runs. The significance of the name grew with the affection accorded by generations of fans over seven decades who were beneficiaries of his enduring kindness and admirers of his unwavering loyalty."
This honor can be attributed to Pesky's loyalty and devotion to the Red Sox during his 61-year affiliation with the team.
Over the years, he served in almost every role possible, from shortstop, manager, coach, announcer, to goodwill ambassador. His No. 6 jersey is retired by the club.
9. Team with the Most Heartbreaking Near-misses
Boston Sox has had some of the most talented players in history pass through Fenway Park.
Thomas Yawkey bought Red Sox in 1933 and immediately committed the money necessary to turn it around. He brought veteran stars such as Jimmy Foxx and Joe Cronin.
Together with homegrown talent such as Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, Dom DiMaggio and Ted Williams, they became one of baseball's best teams in the 1940s.
In the 1960s, there was Carl Yastrzemski and heavy hitters like George Scott, Rico Petrocelli, Reggie Smith and Tony Conigliaro. This was followed by Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, Carlton Fisk and Dwight Evans in the 1970s and 80s.
Despite this immense talent, there were no trophies to show.
Over the decades, Red Sox fell victim to some of the most heartbreaking near-misses any team and its fans have endured.
- The Sox earned World Series berths in 1946, 1967, 1975 and 1986, losing each series in seven games.
- Red Sox played American League tiebreakers two times at Fenway Park and lost them both.
- They lost the playoff series to the Yankees in 1999 and in 2003.
- The Sox are also one of the few American League teams to lose a regular season by a single game. In 1972 Detroit played one more game than Boston following a player strike at the start of the season. The Tigers won the odd game and took the American League East title with a record of 86-70 to Boston's 85-70.
10. Dramatic End to the Curse of the Bambino
Everything changed in 2004. Led by ace Curt Schilling and sluggers Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, Red Sox became the first baseball team to ever win a seven-game post-season series after trailing 3-0
The Sox were trailing the fiery Yankees in the American League Championship Series three games to none that year.
It was the ninth inning of game 4, the Sox were trailing 4-3, and the best reliever in baseball history, Mariano Rivera, was pitching for the Yankees.
The season looked all but over. But Boston made a miraculous comeback. They never lost again and beat the Yankees three more times to win their eleventh pennant.
Boston's opponent in the World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals, had the best regular-season record in the majors. But in the World Series, Boston Red Sox dispatched the Cardinals to win the World Series!
This was the turnaround for the Boston Red Sox as they won the World Series again in 2007, 2013 and 2018.
Knowing as much as you can about your favorite team or even just the one you regularly back will only intensify your enjoyment of their performance. We hope you've learned something new about the Boston Red Sox.
How do you expect them to perform in 2022? Let us know in the comments!