A trio of fires in May 1926 destroyed the wooden bleachers down Fenway Park's left-field line. The damaged seating was a visible reminder of the club's woes until the charred section was taken down that August. However, the removal of the stands didn't change the team's fortunes as they staggered to a 107 loss season. In the fall, Fenway Park was busy with over a dozen football games, the most it had hosted in one year.

The Red Sox

Record: 46-107, 8th in American League
Manager: Lee A. Fohl
Attendance: 285,155

Lee Fohl remained as manager of the Red Sox and so too did the team's losing ways. The Red Sox began the year at Fenway Park with a 6-1 exhibition victory over the Boston Braves on April 9. This was the first of many "City Series" games that would be played between the Red Sox and Braves franchises on a frequent basis until the Braves moved from Boston.

The Red Sox finished with just 46 wins, one fewer than in 1925, and there wasn't even one starting pitcher on the team who could manage to win more than eight games. Three other starters were tied with six wins apiece, giving the team's top four hurlers an aggregate 26 victories. Ted Wingfield won 11 games but pitched more than half his games in relief. On Opening Day alone, the Red Sox burned through six pitchers and lost to the Yankees, 12-11. Notably, it was the first Red Sox game broadcast on radio, with Gus Rooney at the WNAC microphone.

The 1926 season was so bereft of hope that a Boston newspaper headline in July 1926 read "Wait Till Next Year." The team only won 18 games after that point, ending the year by losing 28 of their final 32. The Red Sox were last in the league in the standings, last in batting average, last in slugging, last in stolen bases, last in ERA, and just missed being last in attendance (the St. Louis Browns drew 1,169 fewer patrons.) On October 22, 1926, Lee Fohl resigned after losing 299 games in his three seasons as Red Sox skipper.


The Red Sox and Braves City Series Games

In the first half of the 20th Century, the Red Sox and Braves (who were briefly renamed the Boston Bees in the late 1930s) frequently played exhibition games against each other in what was dubbed the "City Series". These games were always played in early to mid-April as a way to kick off the baseball season in Boston. Over the years, the games also saw the debut of certain Fenway Park legends, including Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, and Joe Cronin. While the Red Sox and Braves/Bees franchise played pretty evenly at Fenway Park in the earliest years of the series, the Red Sox dominated the late 1940s and the first few years of the 1950s, going unbeaten in their last 11 Fenway Park games against their Boston counterparts, before the Braves moved to Milwaukee following the 1952 season.

City Series Games at Fenway Park
April 9, 1926Red Sox 6, Braves 1
April 8, 1927Red Sox 13, Braves 2
April 9, 1927Braves 6, Red Sox 5
April 12, 1930Braves 4, Red Sox 3 (11 Innings)
April 11, 1931Red Sox 7, Braves 3
April 9, 1932Braves 2, Red Sox 1
April 8, 1933Red Sox 7, Braves 0
April 14, 1934Red Sox 8, Braves 2 (Fenway Park's first game after its 1933-34 reconstruction)
April 14, 1935Braves 3, Red Sox (Joe Cronin's Fenway Park debut)
April 12, 1936Bees 8, Red Sox 4
April 18, 1937Red Sox 10, Bees 8 (Bobby Doerr's Fenway Park debut)
April 16, 1938Bees 6, Red Sox 2
April 16, 1939Red Sox 1, Bees 0 (Ted Williams' Fenway Park debut)
April 14, 1940Bees 7, Red Sox 3
April 13, 1941Braves 10, Red Sox 3
April 12, 1942Braves 7, Red Sox 5
April 18, 1943Red Sox 5, Braves 3
April 19, 1943Braves 6, Red Sox 1 (10 innings)
April 15, 1944Red Sox 3, Braves 2
April 15, 1945Red Sox 6, Braves 5
April 12, 1946Red Sox 11, Braves 5
April 13, 1946Braves 7, Red Sox 3
April 14, 1946Red Sox 19, Braves 6
April 13, 1947Braves 7, Red Sox 7 (16 innings) (Tie)
April 17, 1948Red Sox 2, Braves 1
April 18, 1948Red Sox 2, Braves 1
April 16, 1949Red Sox 5, Braves 2
April 17, 1949Red Sox 4, Braves 3
April 18, 1949Red Sox 6, Braves 2
April 16, 1950Red Sox 3, Braves 1
April 15, 1951Red Sox 6, Braves 3
April 12, 1952Red Sox 12, Braves 7
April 13, 1952Red Sox 2, Braves 1

Renovations

On May 7, 1926, three small fires broke out in the left-field bleachers when trash and paper ignited beneath the wood-framed stands. The flames were quickly extinguished by fans but the very next day, after the Red Sox lost to the Indians, the ballpark caught fire again in the same area. This time the flames engulfed the bleachers and the fire department had to be called to fight the blaze, which spread to the grandstand roof and onto surrounding properties. The stands were destroyed but weren't taken down until that August, and when they were, the void left a massive amount of foul territory down the left-field line. It is believed to have been the largest foul territory in the majors until the seats were replaced in 1934.

Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park

On June 13, 1926, the Boston Post Office hosted a pair of teams from Western Massachusetts in a Fenway Park doubleheader. Boston College and Holy Cross also took to the Fenway Park diamond in June with 12,000 people on hand to watch the two rivals.

1926 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park
June 13Holyoke 3, Boston Post Office 2
June 13Boston Post Office 15, Springfield 2
June 17Boston College 2, Holy Cross 1
July 23Lynn Flyers 6, White Eagles 2
August 25Houghton & Dutton 3, R H. White 3

More Than a Ballpark™

The fall of 1926 was a busy one at Fenway Park, with plenty of football action in October and November, including three separate football doubleheaders.

1926 Non-Baseball Events At Fenway Park
May 23War Memorial Service*
September 29Jamaica Plain High 7, Mechanic Arts 0 (Football)
September 29Brighton High 0, South Boston High 0 (Football)
September 30BU Terriers Scrimmage: Varsity vs. B Squad (Football)
October 13Dorchester High 20, Mechanic Arts 0 (Football)
October 13Boston English 27, Boston Trade School 0 (Football)
October 22Hyde Park High 7, South Boston High 0 (Football)
October 22Jamaica Plain 14, East Boston High 0 (Football)
October 26Dorchester High 0, Boston Trade 0 (Football)
October 26Charlestown High 6, Hyde Park High 6 (Football)
October 30Boston University 10, Springfield College 3 (Football)
November 5Boston Latin 3, Boston Trade 0 (Football)
November 12Jamaica Plain High 12, Hyde Park High 0 (Football)
November 18Jamaica Plain High 7, Brighton High 3 (Football)
November 22East Boston High 0, South Boston High 0 (Football)
November 23Mechanic Arts 10, Boston Trade 6 (Football)
November 25Pere Marquette 9, Fitton A. C. 3 (Football)

*Started in the 1910s, a late May memorial service coinciding with the Memorial Day weekend was often held at Fenway Park through the mid-20th Century.

Fenway Park In 1929 (Credit: Leslie Jones/Boston Public Library)