Fenway Park, Boston



BEANTOWN BALL: High above Fenway Park.
Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox

Fenway Park is the oldest active major league ballpark (it celebrated its 100th anniversary last year), and every time it swings open its aged gates for a Boston Red Sox game, the ballpark makes history. When baseball fans go through its turnstiles, they journey back in time. Last March, the ballpark was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and last June, it sold out its 745th consecutive Red Sox home game, setting a North American pro-sports, ­regular-season record previously held by the National Basketball Association’s Portland Trail Blazers.

The Red Sox won the World Series in the ballpark’s inaugural 1912 season, then again in 1915, 1916 and 1918 — the latter three championships powered by the arm of one Babe Ruth. After the Babe was sold to the New York Yankees in early 1920 for $125,000 in cash and some $300,000 in loans, the Red Sox did not win another title until 2004 — an 86-year drought that many attributed to the “Curse of the Bambino” — while Ruth blossomed into the game’s greatest slugger and the Yankees went on to win 37 pennants and 25 world championships during the rest of the 20th century.

Over the years, there have been periodic improvements and ballpark renovations, but Fenway has maintained its charm and kept its distinctive features: the brick façade on Yawkey Way; the Green Monster, the 37-foot-tall wall in left field; the hand-operated scoreboard; the Pesky Pole in right field, looming only 302 feet from home plate; the narrow rows of green wooden seats; and the one seat painted red in the 37th row of the bleachers in right, where Ted Williams’ record 502-foot homer landed in 1946.

The popular fried-dough sandwich bun at Jerry Remy's.
Courtesy Jerry Remys
Because tickets are so difficult to come by, unless you’re willing to pay scalpers’ prices, many Sox fans congregate in the Fenway neighborhood, near Kenmore Square, to watch games and socialize in the many pubs and restaurants near the ballpark. The Cask ’n Flagon, behind the Green Monster, is the quintessential Sox bar. Under its signature marquee is a sign trumpeting its No. 2 ranking on an ESPN list of the top sports bars in America. It opened more than 40 years ago as a nightclub where Springsteen, Hendrix and ­Aerosmith later would perform. Now it’s teeming­ with historic photographs, such as the Babe playing a tuba, and offers a variety of fare, including a Green Monster pizza.

Another must-stop is Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar & Grill on Boylston Street. Named after the former Sox infielder and broadcaster, the bar is known for its rooftop deck and its huge TVs. Not surprisingly, Remy’s Red Ale and a Remy Burger on fried dough are very popular menu items with the regular patrons. Boston Beer Works, across from the park, is a huge sports bar/restaurant that features about 16 handcrafted beers on any given day and offers the Fenway Burger (topped with chili, scallions and cheddar cheese) and Prince Edward Island mussels. The Baseball Tavern on Boylston also has a rooftop deck that resembles a concession area at Fenway, complete with a mini scoreboard.

Game On! is another large and loud restaurant/sports bar featuring more than 90 high-definition TVs, the usual bar food — burgers, wings, oysters, pizza — and a window view of visiting players hitting in the batting cages. The Bleacher Bar, with its own street entrance beneath the Green Monster, features a huge window overlooking the outfield. No game ticket required.