By: Daniel Wilkins
This article was also written, in the same form, for “Adventures in Baseball”, my personal baseball blog. Check it out here:
If you’ve ever been to Boston and visited a Red Sox game, you can all but ignore the 37-foot-tall Green Monster sitting in left field. It creates a challenge for right-handed batters at Fenway, trying to hit a ball over the wall for a home run. But, even though some critics consider the monument to be an eyesore, there is an actual reason why the famous wall was built in 1912.
In 1910, Red Sox owner John I. Taylor (who was also a businessman) strived for a new ballpark to replace the Huntington Avenue Grounds. The Grounds were the first original park for the Sox, since the creation of the team in 1901. Because of the ballpark being in disarray, and John Taylor’s perfectionist attitude, a new ballpark would soon arise.
Taylor, according to acquaintances, was this rich, snobby dude with little sympathy and a very condescending way of talking. Because he was a businessman, he had a lot of money and exploited it on his Sox as much as possible. His new ballpark would reside in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood, which hadn’t seen much industrial progress since the late 1880s. The park would be on the corners of Landsdowne and Ipswich streets, and soon, the build went to town.
Taylor had everything that he needed, including money, his plot of land, and a well-thought idea, until an issue arose.
What was the issue?
See, Taylor’s philosophy was that you should not be able to enjoy something you don’t own unless you pay the price (literally, or figuratively) for that event. Therefore, if you don’t pay a ticket to see a Red Sox game, you shouldn’t be able to see the game at all.
In the age before television’s existence, it was a lot easier to get away with this. There was no third-party medium to have live coverage or accounts of the game, so, you could easily prevent unpaying, random onlookers from having access to the great views that Fenway had.
Taylor’s idea was a wooden fence, 25 feet tall, which is a bit shorter than today’s 37-foot-tall structure. Unless a 30-foot-tall giraffe was walking around with a 14XL David Ortiz jersey on, acting like a Red Sox fan, no one could surely peek into the game without paying for his/her spot.
When a 1933 fire destroyed the park and rendered the old version of Fenway unable to be used, “the Wall”, as it had come to be known, was reconstructed in 1934, and the Green Monster we’re familiar with was built.
After that, the Green Monster was a landmark of Boston history, and no huge modifications were made until 2003, when 269 seats were added on the Monster. Sure, $600 per seat today isn’t cheap, but it’s sure worth it. Now you know the history and meaning of the Green Monster.