Fenway 1912: The Birth of a Ballpark, a Championship Season, and Fenway's Remarkable First Year Hardcover – Oct 11 2011
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About the Author
GLENN STOUT is the author of Young Woman and the Sea and Fenway 1912 .See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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."
"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.
After initially discussing the building of the ballpark itself (it opened in April of 1912, days after the sinking of the Titanic), the author spends much of his time focusing on the ballpark and Red Sox team during that first season at Fenway, a year in which the team played in the World Series.
The amount of detail provided on that first season is incredible, possibly even too much. The best parts of all were those that addressed how the team changed its style of play to accommodate the new ballpark.
I also enjoyed reading about some of the most notable ballplayers during the early 20th century. Red Sox players like Smoky Joe Wood, Harry Hooper, and Tris Speaker and also opponents such as Ty Cobb and Christy Matthewson. Also of interest were the Royal Rooters, fanatical Red Sox fans whose behavior sometimes unnerved the opponents.
The author does a terrific job at including interesting details about baseball of that era. For example, boys would wander the park selling limited concessions items. There were no concession stands until Wrigley Field two years later.
I never realized how great a role gambling played in the game during this pre-Black Sox era.
An absolutely fascinating book that any baseball fan should enjoy. Recommended!!