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Fenway 1912: The Birth of a Ballpark, a Championship Season, and Fenway's Remarkable First Year [Hardcover]

Glenn Stout
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Oct. 11 2011

“After one hundred years, each time you walk up the ramp from beneath the stands and out toward that sea of sunlit grass, Fenway Park remains the most special kind of place there is, a place that can still change your life.”

In anticipation of the one hundredth anniversary of America’s most beloved ballpark, the untold story of how Fenway Park came to be and its remarkable first season. 1912 was a leap year, the year the Titanic sank, and it was also the year baseball’s original shrine, the one and only Fenway Park, was born. While the paint was still drying, the infield grass still coming in, the Red Sox embarked on an unlikely season that culminated in a World Series battle against the Giants that stands as one of the greatest ever played.

Fenway 1912 tells the incredible story of Fenway, from the unorthodox blueprint that underlies the park’s notorious quirks, to the long winter when locals poured concrete and erected history, to the notorious fixers who then ruled the game, to the ragtag team who delivered a world championship, Fenway’s first.

For all that has been written in tribute to the great Fenway Park, no one has ever really told the behind-the-scenes true story of its tumultuous yet glorious first year. Drawing on extensive new research, the esteemed baseball historian Glenn Stout delivers an extraordinary tale of innovation, desperation, and perspiration – capturing Fenway as never before.


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"Stout imbues his account with a unique vibrancy and a razor-sharp intelligence. A wonderful sports book." -- Booklist, starred review   "A valuable addition to baseball history . . . Baseball diehards and historians, and of course Red Sox fans, will find much of interest in this paean to one of sport’s most famous venues." -- Kirkus Reviews   "Fun and informative . . . A well-constructed tribute to Fenway on its upcoming 100th anniversary." -- Publishers Weekly "This is a book for anyone who cares about the storied Boston Red Sox, about their 100-year-old bandbox of a stadium, about the remarkable championship season of 1912, about the street-level history of Boston, and about why baseball will forever be the all-American pastime. This is a book for all of us." – Larry Tye, author of SATCHEL: The Life and Times of an American Legend

"Glenn Stout has done the impossible: he has put an end to the seemingly bottomless genre that is Fenway Park books. We now need no more. We get not pomp and circumstance, but the bones and blueprint of a legendary ballpark — topped with a star-filled World Series that still endures. He doesn’t pretend history is straw hats and cigars, but gives you real people, real baseball and (the best part) real Boston, the way any real writer should." Howard Bryant, ESPN, and author of The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron

About the Author

GLENN STOUT is the author of Young Woman and the Sea and Fenway 1912.


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Return To Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear! May 31 2012
By James Gallen TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Baseball fans must make their biases clear. I have made the pilgrimage to Fenway Park, like the Red Sox, but I root for the Cardinals. That being said I can now tell you what I think of "Fenway 1912". The book is well written and introduces the reader to many facts about the early years of baseball.

Author Glenn Stout lays the groundwork of Boston baseball a century ago, when the Braves, yes the Braves, were king, when ballparks were temporary and their opening no big deal and when the terms of the World Series were subject to annual negotiations. He illustrates how the Fenway of today is not the Fenway of 1912 other than that it shares essentially the same footprint. Although the book focuses on Fenway's first year, the reader learns how it evolved and avoided destruction over the years to become the icon that it is today. Fenway did not become the American League's Mecca because it was the most spectacular stadium but because it survived the march of progress to become the relic of the age when the American league was young and baseball was weaving itself into the American psyche.

The one weakness of this book is that it slows a bit as it goes through the Red Sox' World Championship Season almost game by game. It is interesting to read of Tris Speaker, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson and John McGraw, but beyond them the dramatis personae of this tale are people whom this Cardinal fan at least, has never heard of. That being said, "Fenway 1912" is a magical return to the days when ancient gods roamed the fields and created our summer pastime. Any fan of the game must savor its lore of which Fenway Park is a crown jewel. Do not let a season pass without reading it.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  32 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You don't need to be a Red Sox fan to enjoy this Oct. 11 2011
By Jason Kirkfield - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I have read many baseball books over the past year, but this was one of the very best in terms of capturing an era and breathing life into these Hall of Fame (and sometimes Hall of Infamy) names.

With echoes of Fever Pitch, Fenway 1912 begins with veteran sportswriter and ESPN regular Glenn Stout's own support group welcome--"Fenway Park changed my life"--then transports us back to 1911 to get a running start on what would be a milestone year in baseball and for Boston in particular. I consider myself a lifelong baseball fan, but I never knew the history of that inaugural Fenway Park season, and certainly not the nail-biter details of the eight- (yes, eight) game 1912 World Series against the Giants.

Stout has mined thousands of contemporary newspaper articles to reconstruct the backstory of pre-Fenway Red Sox Nation, and later, pitch-by-pitch accounts of the Series itself. The latter was a sloppy affair, with twenty-eight combined errors, many of them pivotal. Critically, we learn that professional sports were never as innocent as we like to remember. Betting was rampant and people--teammates, even--were always looking out for themselves, even when bleacher seats cost a quarter. I am reminded of Edward G. Robinson's wonderfully bitter rejoinder from Soylent Green: "People were always rotten. But the world was beautiful."

Virtually every sentence in Fenway 1912 is well-written. It was a pleasure to read and I would strongly recommend it to baseball fans everywhere. (And please note: this is a Yankees fan talking.)

From the Prologue:

"It took most of the morning to remove the sod and wheel it to the horse carts waiting behind the grandstand, but by noon the work was done and the green space that had once been the focus for thousands of sets of eyes and the home for legends like Collins, Buck Freeman, Chick Stahl, and Cy Young was now stacked in layers, like the pages of a history book."
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Birth of Baseball's Great Cathedral March 22 2012
By W. C HALL - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
At the dawn of its centennial season, Boston's storied Fenway Park deserved a great history. Glenn Stout has given us that history. "Fenway 1912" interweaves the story of the park's construction with the exciting story of the Sox' first season in the park. Stout's research was exhaustive, but it never overwhelms the story he's telling--it only adds to its depth and richness. In these pages, you'll share the sense of opportunity as new ownership prepared to vacate the Sox' beloved Huntington Avenue grounds for the virgin territory of the Fens; you will feel the urgency through the winter months as the construction crews battled the weather and the calendar to have the new park ready for Opening Day, 1912; you will witness the great Red Sox squad of 1912 coming together, poised and eager to return the Sox to the glory of their early years in the American League; and follow their march to the World Series against the New York Giants, a memorable one that still resonates in baseball history today. Fans may not recognize the park they see in these pages; there's no Green Monster yet, and many of the other features that are Fenway landmarks were still decades away. However, Stout argues persuasively that because Fenway has been treated as a living organism rather than a fixed monument, the park has remained its utility in a way that none of its contemporaries (Shibe Park, Ebbets Field, the Polo Grounds, Comiskey Park, Tiger Stadium) could. Red Sox fans, and all of baseball, are enriched because Fenway is here to welcome its second century. Enjoy this book now. Then pull it off the shelf again next winter when the rain and snow have covered the field, and savor this great story all over again.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time Travel Back to 1912 Fenway Park May 20 2012
By Brian Merrill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Glenn Stout has created a time machine and has brought me back to 1912 and the birth of Fenway Park, as I was able to witness history in the making. Not only, through Stout's eyes, did I witness the opening of one of this nation's most beloved ballparks, but I was right there for the ride, all season long, as the 1912 Red Sox rose to the top to win the World Series, not through a cohesive team (like the 2004 team), but despite the year-long tension that existed among the two rival factions that made up the team. Stout does an amazing job of putting the reader right there at the park. Fenway 1912 is an important read for any member of Red Sox nation! I give it a huge stamp of approval!!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Look at a Beloved Ballpark Oct. 4 2011
By drebbles - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
"Fenway 1912" covers not only the building of the now historic ballpark, but the first season played there. Author Glenn Stout also writes about the Boston players of that season (Joe Wood, Tris Speaker, Duffy Lewis, Harry Hooper, and the rest); the architects; the groundskeepers; the owners; the fans (notably the Royal Rooters); what baseball was like in 1912; and how the media covered the games.

"Fenway 1912" is a meticulously researched and fascinating look at the beloved ballpark. The beginning of the book covers how and why Fenway was built and, together with the end of the book where Stout describes the changes to the park throughout the years, it is amazing to realize how Fenway has stood up to the test of time (for better or worse). The story of how the park was built during the harsh New England winter - working until the last minute to get it done - is interesting to read as are some of the unique features when it was built that have long since gone away - namely Duffy's Cliff.

As fascinating as the building of the park is (and how much it has changed), the story of the 1912 season is even more fascinating. Baseball has changed a lot in the past 100 years and it boggled my mind to read of games (including World Series Games!) being called early because of darkness or even because players had to catch a train to get to the next city they were playing in. I was surprised that some things haven't changed - the ballpark was full of ads even then - and how some things have changed - for example, the fans had much more control and even dictated where they would sit, especially the often rowdy Royal Rooters. The way pitchers were handled was totally different back then in an era before relief pitchers and starting pitchers worked much more often. The tidbits about various Boston players were also interesting.

Another interesting part of the book was how Stout was able to recreate certain key games of the 1912 season (Joe Wood vs. Walter Johnson and the World Series) in such a way that the reader almost feels like he or she is at said games. Even decades later, Red Sox fans will be cheering Wood on and groaning as the Red Sox come close to blowing the World Series. There are pictures in the book that help readers visualize Fenway when it was first built as well as various players. In the epilogue, Stout tells what happened to the players, owners, architect, and even the groundskeeper after the 1912 season - another nice touch.

"Fenway 1912" is an excellent look at a beloved ballpark that has stood the test of time.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid baseball history Sept. 24 2011
By Barry Sparks - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Jerome Kelley, James McLaughlin and Charles Logue are unfamiliar names to most Boston Red Sox fans, but they are key figures in the history of Fenway Park, built in 1912 and on the verge of its 100th anniversary.

Author Glenn Stout focuses on Kelley (groundskeeper), McLaughlin (architect) and Logue (contractor) for the first quarter of the book as he details the design and construction of Fenway Park and the geography of its site.

Stout dispels several myths along the way: Fenway Park wasn't shoehorned into a lot, creating its layout. Stout points out that there was plenty of room where the park was built and it could have been symmetrical, if that had been the desire. The city actually grew up around Fenway Park. Also, in the context of the era, the opening of Fenway Park was not a big deal. It was dealt with matter of fact, and there's no evidence that the sinking of the Titanic the same month was the reason for lack of coverage.

Stout writes that Fenway Park wasn't "discovered" by the national media until the 1967 World Series. Before then, it wasn't considered a historic gem or a cathedral of baseball. And, the Green Monster was simply "The Wall" prior to the late 70s.

Stout's account of the 1912 season and the World Series, which the Red Sox won, is interesting, filled with insights about the players--particularly Tris Speaker, Joe Wood, Harry Hooper and manager Jake Stahl-- the era and the game. The players were divided along religious lines and Stahl's job was to bring them together.

While Wood paced the Red Sox with a 34-5 record, Stout points out that it was the emergence of third-string catcher Hick Cady into Wood's personal catcher and first stringer that was the key to the championship.

To accommodate larger crowds for the World Series against the New York Giants, 11,000 seats were added to Fenway Park, forever altering it. The 1912 World Series turned out to be one of the most remarkable in history. Eight games were played (there was one tie, which was the subject of controversy--the players thought they should get a share of that game as well as the first four games) and the Red Sox won 4 games to 3. Throughout his account of the series, Stout points out plays where the design and peculiarities of Fenway Park helped and hurt the Red Sox.

Other controversies included Boston owner James McAleer insisting Buck O'Brien start Game 6 (counting the tie) over ace Joe Wood; Wood's woeful performance in Game 7 and the possible influence of gamblers on the Series outcome. Facing a Game 8 with Giants great Christy Mathewson facing Hugh Bedient, the Red Sox were given little chance of winning. Fred Snodgrass' infamous muff of a routine fly ball with no outs in the bottom of the 10th, set the stage for the winning run and the Red Sox unlikely victory.

Looking at Fenway Park nearing its 100th anniversary, Stout writes, "It has been saved but has not, except in the most general sense, been preserved. Very little of the ballpark that opened in 1912 is visible and the original design is almost unrecognizable."

For any readers interested in baseball history, and particularly Red Sox history, this thoroughly researched and well-written book should be on your bookshelf.
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