Green Monster

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The Green Monster as seen from the grandstand section on September 5, 2006. The ladder is visible to the right of the Red Sox Foundation logo.

The Green Monster is a popular nickname for the thirty-seven foot, two-inch (11.33 m) high left field wall at Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox baseball team. The wall is only 310–315 feet from home plate, and is a popular target for right-handed hitters.

Overview[edit]

The original ad-covered Green Monster in 1914.
The Green Monster in 1996, seven seasons before seats were added on top.

The wall was part of the original ballpark construction of 1912. It is made of wood, and was covered in tin and concrete in 1934. It was then covered with hard plastic in 1976. A manual scoreboard is set into the wall. Despite the name, the Green Monster was not painted green until 1947; before that it was covered with advertisements. The Monster designation is relatively new. For most of its history it was simply called "The Wall".

The wall is the highest among current Major League Baseball fields, and is the second highest among all professional baseball fields (including minor leagues), falling approximately six inches short of the left field wall at the Santander Stadium in York, Pennsylvania.

Ballparks occupied by professional baseball teams have often featured high fences hiding the field from external viewers, particularly behind open areas of the outfield where bleacher seating is low-lying or non-existent. The wall might also reduce the number of "cheap" home runs due to the barrier's relatively close distance from home plate. Fenway's wall serves both purposes. Past ballparks of Fenway's era or even later which featured high fences in-play included Baker Bowl, Washington Park, Ebbets Field, League Park, Griffith Stadium, Shibe Park, and more recently, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Fenway is the last of the exceptionally high-walled major league ballparks. Relatively high walls in modern ballparks have been constructed for their novelty rather than by necessity, as Fenway's wall had been.

The Green Monster is famous for preventing home runs on many line drives that would clear the walls of other ballparks. A side effect of this is to increase the prevalence of doubles, since this is the most common result when the ball is hit off the wall (often referred to as a "wallball double"). Some left fielders, predominantly those with vast Fenway experience, have become adept at fielding caroms off the wall to throw runners out at second base or hold the batter to a single. Compared with other current major league parks, the wall's placement creates a comparatively shallow left field; the wall falls approximately 304 - 310 feet (94 m) from the plate along the left-field foul line. With this short distance, many deep fly balls that could be caught by the fielder in a deeper park rebound off the wall for base hits. And while the wall turns many would-be line-drive homers into doubles it also allows some high yet shallow fly balls to clear the field of play for a home run.

During 2001 and 2002, the Green Monster's height record was temporarily beaten by the center field wall at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. During the construction of Great American Ball Park, located right next to Riverfront Stadium, a large section of seats was removed from the center field area to make room and a 40-foot (12 m) black wall was erected as a temporary batter's eye. The entire wall was in play. This new wall was often called "The Black Monster." When Riverfront Stadium was demolished in 2002, the Green Monster reclaimed the record.

In honor of the famed wall, the Red Sox mascot is a furry green monster, named Wally.

Features[edit]

Duffy's Cliff[edit]

Duffy Lewis was famous for his ability to handle the Fenway outfield

From 1912 to 1933, there was a 10-foot (3.0 m)-high mound that formed an incline in front of the Green Monster, extending from the left-field foul pole to the center field flag pole. This earthwork formed a "terrace", a common feature of ballparks of the day, whose purpose was to make up the difference in grade between street level and field level, as with Cincinnati's Crosley Field. It also served to double as a seating area to handle overflow crowds, another common practice of that era.

As a result of the terrace, a left fielder in Fenway Park had to play the territory running uphill. Boston's first star left fielder, Duffy Lewis, mastered the skill so well that the area became known as Duffy's Cliff. In contrast, rotund outfielder Bob Fothergill, known by the indelicate nicknames of "Fats" or "Fatty", reportedly once chased a ball up the terrace, slipped and fell, and literally rolled downhill.

In 1934, Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey arranged to flatten the ground in left field so that Duffy's Cliff no longer existed, and it became part of the lore of Fenway Park.

Scoreboard[edit]

The scoreboard was added in 1934. It forms the lower half of the Green Monster and is still updated by hand from behind the wall throughout the game. The American League scores are also updated from behind the wall. The National League scores need to be updated from the front of the wall between innings.[1] There is also a board which shows the current American League East standings. There are 127 slots in the wall and a team of three score keepers move around two pound, 13 by 16 inch, plates to represent the score. Yellow numbers are used to represent in-inning scores and white numbers are used to represent final inning tallies. The numbers of the current pitchers weigh three pounds and measure 16 by 16 inches.[2]

Carlton Fisk's "body English" when he hit his game-winning home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, "waving" the ball fair, was captured on a TV camera stationed in the scoreboard. It was said at the time that the camera operator had abandoned his post when he saw a rat scurry by, and the camera remained trained on Fisk instead of trying to follow the flight of the ball.

Morse Code[edit]

The Morse Code that appears from top to bottom in the white lines of the American League scoreboard are the initials of former owners Thomas A. Yawkey and Jean R. Yawkey.[3]

Right Field[edit]

Fenway's left-field distortion is offset by the odd shape and generous size of right field, which is 302 feet (92 m) (although its actual distance has been disputed over the years) along the line (almost the same as in left), but 380 feet (120 m) at its deepest. The bullpen was added along the right field wall in 1940 to shorten the distance for left-handed slugger Ted Williams' home runs to clear the fence. For years afterward, the bullpens were known as "Williamsburg".

Green Monster seating[edit]

Seats atop the Green Monster

In 1936, the Red Sox installed a 23-foot (7.0 m) net above the Monster in order to protect the storefronts on adjoining Lansdowne Street from home run balls. The net remained until the 2002–03 offseason, when the team's new ownership constructed a new seating section atop the wall to accommodate 274 fans. Wildly popular, these "Monster seats" were part of a larger expansion plan for Fenway Park seating. The Red Sox later added a smaller seating section in 2005, dubbed the "Nation's Nest," located between the main seating section and the center field scoreboard.

The ladder[edit]

Comprising yet another quirk, a ladder is attached to the Green Monster, extending from near the upper-left portion of the scoreboard, 13 feet (4.0 m) above ground, to the top of the wall. Previously, members of the grounds crew would use the ladder to retrieve home run balls from the netting hung above the wall. After the net was removed for the addition of the Monster seats, the ladder ceased to have any real function, but yet it still remains in place as a historic relic.

The placement of the ladder is noteworthy given the fact that it is in fair territory; it is the only such ladder in the major leagues. On plenty of occasions, a batted ball has struck the ladder during game play, at least twice leading to an inside-the-park home run.[4] During a 1950s game, Red Sox outfielders Ted Williams and Jimmy Piersall both tracked a fly ball in left center, but the ball struck the ladder and caromed into center field, giving batter Jim Lemon enough time to round the bases. Later, in 1963, the slow-footed Dick Stuart hit a high fly that ricocheted first off the ladder, and then the head of outfielder Vic Davalillo, before rolling far enough away to allow Stuart to score.

Advertisements[edit]

After the wall was painted green in 1947, advertisements did not appear on the wall until 1999, when the All-Star Game at Fenway was being promoted. Various ads have appeared above the scoreboard since then, such as the Jimmy Fund. The Coke Bottles on the left light tower were a target for power-hitters when they were placed in 1997. These 3D advertisements were taken down before the 2008 season, when an LED sign was built above the new left-field upper deck seats. As a lead up to his 500th career home run, Manny Ramirez's home run count was tallied on the bottom of the light tower. Ads beside the manual scoreboard were added when the scoreboard was expanded. Above the manual scoreboard, where a Jimmy Fund advertisement had remained for many years, the logo for Covidien is now a prominent aspect of Fenway Park.

Citgo sign[edit]

An electrically lit Citgo sign can be seen from inside Fenway, located outside the park, in the view above the left-field wall. The famous sign, located atop the building housing the Barnes & Noble Boston University bookstore on nearby Kenmore Square, was erected in 1965, replacing a "Cities Service" sign (Citgo's old name) that had been there previously. The sign is kept as a landmark. On October 15, 2008, a small fire caused minor damage to the sign.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "What makes Fenway Fenway". Red Sox die hard. 
  2. ^ "Technology". Popular Mechanics. 
  3. ^ "Fenway Park – Questions, Answers, Fun Facts, Information". Fun trivia. Retrieved 2009-06-26. 
  4. ^ "Features of Fenway Park". Graphics. Boston. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  5. ^ "Fire Burns Landmark Citgo Sign". WCVB/The Boston channel. Archived from the original on Oct 18, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-15.