“DIARY OF A WINNER”
FENWAY'S FIRST TEAM
May 17, 1912 ... The dedication of Fenway Park, the real official dedication, with the music, the flowers and the flag, was one huge success, at least from 3 PM until sometime after 5 PM, when the White Sox refused to take the short end of the breaks any longer, and trotted home an easy winner. Although there was no banquet today, there was one beautiful day on hand for a baseball game, and a field in splendid shape to play it on, even after the downpour of rain yesterday afternoon. The pools of water had mysteriously disappeared and the clouds of dust were whisked about where not so many hours before the conditions were befitting a boat race rather than playing a baseball game.
The huge new grandstand was draped for its full length with tricolor bunting, potted plants lined the walks leading to the wide promenade, and there was a band which was never weary and was augmented by a megaphone quartet that refused to allow any moment of the game to be dull. The crowd which numbered about 17,000, was not only a great tribute to the Red Sox but to the American league leaders from Chicago. It was a great crowd, one that was game to the core and rooted hard all the way, enjoying the playing of the home team which was mainly on the defensive after the Red Sox made their two runs before anyone was out in the first inning.
They began to arrive early and fully 13,000 were on hand when the official festivities began. Just before 3 PM, the two teams ranged out in one long rank that extended across the diamond, and marched in step behind the band, all the way down the field. It was the work of the managers, Jimmy Callahan of the White Sox and Jake Stahl of the Red Sox to attach the halyards of the new flag and then raise it briskly to the top of the centerfield flagpole. The band played the Star-Spangled Banner as the crowd rose with their heads uncovered, and then there was one long cheer as the players trudged back, breaking their ranks and rushing out to warm up for the game itself. The Red Sox players were on their toes awaiting their turn to get into the swing of play. Heinie Wagner was pegging the ball across to Hugh Bradley and Tris Speaker was throwing the ball to Duffy Lewis and then back to Harry Hooper in the outfield. Bill Carrigan was warming up young Larry Pape and the fans were wondering what the young man's fortunes would be against Chicago veteran pitcher Ed Walsh.
The Red Sox started off quickly with doubles by Hooper and Clyde Engel an infield hit from Speaker that Buck Weaver could not handle, to put a run across and leave a man on third before there was anybody out. Duffy Lewis then hit into a doubleplay but Engel came home and the first two runs ever scored at Fenway Park, were on the board.
Over the course of the rest of the game the visitors gave Pape a bad pounding for a total of 20 bases, while Ed Walsh held the Red Sox to just five base hits. And yet but for a streak of bad baseball played in the ninth-inning with two outs and the score 2 to 1 in the Red Sox favor, Pape would have hung on to win the first game played at Fenway Park.
In the fateful ninth-inning it was the last chance for the White Sox and with Ed Walsh coming to the plate is looked good for the Red Sox to hang on. Walsh knocked a very weak grounder that rolled straight at Pape, who to the amazement of everybody in the park, let it roll through his legs. The young pitcher was so upset with himself, that he lost concentration and the next batter, Morrie Rath, smashed the ball to left-center for two bases. It was then up to Harry Lord, and it was decided to intentionally give him a pass.
That brought in Frank Lange to bat with the bases loaded. The first ball went over the plate for strike and the next one was a ball. Then to the disappointment of all the thousands of fans, Pape unleashed a ball that hit the batter in the arm, bringing in the tying run. If that wasn't bad enough, there was more to come. Ping Bodie rolled an easy grounder down to Clyde Engle, who made a bad fumble. He could have gotten the man at second, but decided to throw to first and it was late getting there, allowing the go-ahead run to score. Shano Collins rapped out a single and two more runs came across, making it 5 to 2 and showing that Pape had become totally unraveled after his careless error.
The Red Sox finished the game with a walk to Larry Gardner, who promptly stole second, only to see the next three batters go down in order and killing the Red Sox dream of a comeback.
Bill Carrigan caught a great game, nailing two fast baserunners in the first inning and one more in the second. He also was continually coaching is young pitcher out of bad situations and used his head throughout the game to great advantage. The Red Sox were continually getting out of tight spots and that fact made the finish even more disappointing.