From John Powers at The Boston Globe on April 1, 2012, with quotes from SABR members Ron Selter and John McMurray, and 2012 SABR Seymour Medal winner Glenn Stout:
Fenway wasn’t the first concrete-and-steel major league facility. A half-dozen already were up and running, and Detroit’s Navin Field opened the same day. But it was a necessary novelty for Boston, whose two professional clubs had been playing in wooden firetraps a few blocks from each other in the South End.
The Sox were living on borrowed time at the 11,500-seat Huntington Avenue Grounds, and they knew it.
‘‘You were lucky if you had a wooden ballpark that lasted 20 years without a major fire,’’ said Glenn Stout, author of the recent ‘‘Fenway 1912,’’ a chronicle of the club’s first year in its historic home. ‘‘The longer the pine baked in the sun, the more it became tinder.’’
There was much more money to be made from a modern venue, which is why John I. Taylor was content to build a new park for $650,000, nearly 20 times what the old one had cost, and sell half of the club. Yet the Fenway that opened that year, built in just seven months, was a smaller version of what would come later, with just 11,400 grandstand seats, 8,000 more in a separate right-field pavilion, and 5,000 in the bleachers. Everybody else bought a standing-room ticket, which provided a preferred vantage point in a day when games lasted only a couple of hours.
Read the full article here: http://articles.boston.com/2012-04-01/sports/31265031_1_ballpark-john-i-taylor-seats
Originally published: April 3, 2012. Last Updated: April 3, 2012.