Up close, Fenway's Green Monster not so green
The Green Monster isn't as green as it looks.
Up close, Fenway Park's famous left-field Wall is pocked with thousands of dents and white scuff marks left from decades of doubles that banged off of its facade. Some of the spots are so well-defined that you can even make out the red stitches from the baseball, the Rawlings logo or the Major League Baseball insignia left behind on the green background.
"All those dents out there, you can't help but realize who put them there. That's history," Red Sox left fielder Jonny Gomes said Tuesday on workout day for the World Series. "I come to work every single day in a museum. It's not a baseball field, it's a museum."
Fenway itself is 101 years old, but the 37-foot Wall was added in 1934, first painted green in 1947 and rebuilt in 1976, when it was covered in a hard plastic that is repainted before opening day every spring. Dubbed the Green Monster because, just 310 feet from home plate down the line, it's a scary sight for pitchers, it runs from the left-field grandstands to the 379-foot mark in left-center.
And, every couple of inches, there is a ding or a streak from a ball that bounced off it. It could be a Red Sox batter or an opponent. Maybe it was in batting practice, or maybe in a game. Some were fly balls that would have been caught in another park, and others would have been home runs elsewhere turned into a Fenway single or double.
"Big Papi and (Dustin) Pedroia, they've probably got a lot of them," said rookie Xander Bogaerts, who knocked one near the "Boston Strong" logo high on the Wall in left-center in the AL championship series clincher against the Tigers.
Lower down is a manual scoreboard that has expanded over the years to include both AL and NL results and advertisements. The standings in the AL East show the Red Sox winning the 2013 division title. A darker green, it is pocked with hundreds of white spots an inch or so wide.
Between the slots that record the Red Sox runs and hits is a mirror image, upside-down, of the blue MLB silhouette insignia stamped on every ball. The green bulb that lights up to signify a hit is even more drastically dented, probably by a player or even a grounds crew vehicle crashing into it.
The ladder that was once used to retrieve home runs from the net atop the Monster was retained for historical charm when seats replaced the net. Dripping down it are streaks of rust heading toward the door used by the scoreboard operator to get inside the Wall.
"I'm going to go out there and check it out," said Cardinals reliever Seth Maness, a lifetime National Leaguer making his first visit to the ballpark, who was sitting in the stands before the team's workout. "That's something you don't see on TV."
Gomes has gotten to know the Monster well in his first year with the Red Sox, learning to play its many quirks and caroms in left field. He also made its acquaintance as a hitter, striking a line drive just inches from the top of the Wall in Saturday's victory over Detroit.
He settled for a double - and the knowledge that his dent could remain there for generations to come.
"The Red Sox are a little different; every hit, every run is history," he said. "I'm very grateful I could add into that."
The most famous hit associated with the Green Monster, though, went over the Wall, not off of it. Bucky Dent's high fly ball into the net in a 1978 AL East playoff game, probably an easy out in any other ballpark, gave the New York Yankees the division title and sent the Red Sox home.
That one left a mark as well.