Ted Williams burst onto the Fenway Park scene and immediately made an impact in 1939, setting several MLB and Red Sox rookie records. While the team finished second again, the future certainly looked bright with Williams' arrival and more talent was on the way. The ballpark also welcomed an Old-Timers' Game in honor of baseball's centennial, while Boston College's football team went 5-1 in their Fenway Park home games.
Record: 89-62, 2nd in American League
Manager: Joseph E. Cronin
In 1939, Ted Williams broke into the league with a bang. He made his Fenway Park debut on April 16, 1939 in the annual City Series game against the Braves and never looked back. More than 70 years later, "The Kid" still holds the Major League Baseball rookie records for RBIs (145) and walks (107), the American League rookie record for slugging percentage (.609), and Red Sox rookie records for extra-base hits (86) and runs scored (131).
Williams manned right field as a rookie and was seen as a bit of a character, often practicing his batting stance while playing the outfield. He would also playfully lift his cap up by the button on top, saluting the fans.
On May 9, the Red Sox made history by becoming the first club to travel by air, chartering airplanes to fly from St. Louis to Chicago.
With an 89-62 record, the Red Sox finished in second place again. The Red Sox had the highest team batting average in the AL but their team ERA was 4.56, only fifth best in the league.
Williams led the team in RBIs, with Cronin and Foxx also topping the century mark, and Foxx led the team with a .360 average. Lefty Grove went 15-4, while Jack Wilson, Fritz Ostermueller, and Joe Heving each won 11.
In 1939, a canvas curtain was designed and hung along the back of the third base grandstand seating section in order to shield all-star first baseman Jimmie Foxx from the sun's glare. Home plate had been oriented in 1912 to keep the sun out of the batter's eye, but posed challenges to fielders on the right side of the field as it set. Even though the façade behind home plate is dramatically higher today than it was during Fenway Park's first several decades (the fourth and fifth levels of the park would not be added until several decades later), those playing right field still have a difficult time with the glare from the setting sun at certain times of the day.
On July 12, 1939, the Veterans of Foreign Wars held an Old-Timers Game at Fenway Park as part of the Baseball Centennial, 1839-1939. The day featured a game between National League and American League Old-Timers. Boston Mayor Maurice Tobin and Boston Police Commissioner Joseph Timilty also played that day on a team called the Merry Go Rounders, whose roster also included Bill Carrigan's son and three sons of Smokey Joe Wood. On August 1, the Boston Park Department held a baseball field day that included fungo hitting, catcher's throw, and baserunning. The field day was an annual event at Fenway Park for many years.
|1939 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park|
|June 7||Medford High 3, Maynard High 0|
|June 7||Watertown High 7, Attleboro High 0|
|June 8||Lynn Classical 9, Somerville High 8 (10 Innings)|
|June 8||Norwood High 13, St. Clement 0|
|June 9||Watertown High 3, Medford High 1|
|June 9||Norwood High 5, Lynn Classical 3|
|June 10||Norwood High 7, Watertown High 2|
|July 12||National League Old-Timers 8, American League Old-Timers 4|
|July 12||Lowell Thomas's Nine of Old Men 8, Johnny Lane's Merry Go Rounders 2|
|August 1||Boston Park Department Baseball Field Day|
On September 11, 1939, the Washington Redskins returned to Fenway Park to play in the annual College All-Star Game series. The third annual Boston game was sponsored by the local American Legion post and had featured the Boston Shamrocks the previous two years. During the rest of 1939, Boston College football dominated Fenway Park's calendar. Though the Eagles dropped their first Fenway game of the year to the Florida Gators, they roared back to take their next five at the ballpark, including a 14-0 upset of 10th-ranked Holy Cross before a crowd of more than 40,000 fans on December 2. Boston College also defeated Boston University, which went 1-2 at Fenway Park in 1939.
|1939 Non-Baseball Events At Fenway Park|
|June 4||War Memorial Service*|
|September 11||Washington Redskins 30, Eastern College All-Stars 27 (Football)|
|October 7||Boston University 19, Franklin & Marshall 7 (Football)|
|October 12||University of Florida 7, Boston College 0 (Football)|
|October 14||Western Reserve 19, Boston University 14 (Football)|
|October 21||Boston College 19, Temple 0 (Football)|
|November 4||Boston College 13, Auburn 7 (Football)|
|November 11||St. Anselm 39, Catholic University 13 (Football)|
|November 25||Boston College 38, Kansas State 7 (Football)|
|December 2||Boston College 14, Holy Cross 0 (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.