Plans unveiled for Fenway's 100th anniversary

Plans unveiled for Fenway's 100th anniversary

BOSTON -- Ninety-nine years ago Wednesday, Fenway Park hosted its first professional baseball game, when the Red Sox defeated the New York Highlanders (now known as the Yankees), 7-6, in 11 innings.

And in honor of Fenway's upcoming 100th anniversary in 2012, Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino announced the club's plans to honor the milestone at a news conference Wednesday morning, launching a new website, fenwaypark100.com.

"We have decided to take an affirmative and active and engaging approach to this whole thing and try to make this celebration of 100 years unique," he said in front of about 100 media members, club officials and longtime ticket holders at Fenway. "In our mind, it deserves a fitting, a grand and an extended celebration."

Fans can view year-by-year photos of the historic park as well as watch more than 30 videos highlighting historic Fenway monuments, such as the Green Monster, Pesky's Pole and the lone red seat. Fans can also help the Red Sox plan the anniversary celebration by sharing their experiences and ideas on the website.

"It will put you in the right frame of mind," Lucchino said of the new site. "It will give you a feel for the history, and I think you'll find it both educational and celebratory."

Before the new ownership group of Lucchino, John Henry and Thomas Werner took over in 2002, there were some concerns that Fenway Park would be demolished.

"When the history books are written, I think the most important commitment that they made and now have honored was to preserve and protect all that's good about Fenway Park," said Red Sox executive vice president and COO Sam Kennedy.

Lucchino also expressed his commitment to listening to the fans' ideas for improving the park. After the news conference, he opened things up to audience participation, fielding requests as simple as lowering concession stand prices to those asking that some 2012 regular-season games be free to anyone 100 years old.

Hall of Famer Jim Rice, who played the entirety of his 16-year-career with the Red Sox, had one suggestion: Reorganize the retired numbers that are displayed at the stadium from numerical order to the order in which the players retired.

"I think that's the way it should be," Rice said. "There are a lot of things that are changing with the modern day park. The younger generation of kids coming up will see a new version of the stadium."

Fans will also have the chance to purchase authentic Fenway Park seats starting today. The seats for sale were removed from the lower Right Field seat bowl as part of a number of improvements being made to Fenway Park this year.

The Fenway Park 100th Anniversary Brick Program, which will start April 28, was also unveiled. Fans can have their personal messages engraved onto a brick that will be placed in the area of the concourse inside Gate B or Gate C. Bricks come in two sizes -- 4x8 for $250 and 8x8 for $475 -- and fans also will receive a complimentary replica brick with a custom case.

Bill Hogan Jr., who was born six days before the Red Sox played their first game at Fenway, was honored with the first brick. Hogan, who will turn 100 along with the park next April, had a brick inscribed, "In honor of two 100-year-old Boston Legends."

After the ceremony, Hogan talked about old memories at Fenway Park. His favorite was in 1948, when he witnessed the first one-game tiebreaker in American League history. The Red Sox and Cleveland Indians ended the regular season in a tie for first place, and the Indians won, 8-3, before beating the Boston Braves in the World Series.

"It's certainly a great celebration here today," he said, adding that he wasn't concerned with the current Red Sox and their slow start to the season. "I'm not worried, but I didn't like it. They'll come back. They have a strong core."

Jason Mastrodonato is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.