Editor’s note: Fenway Park opened on April 20, 1912. NESN.com will be celebrating Fenway’s 100-year anniversary with unique content from now until April 20, 2012.
Fans looking for tickets to Red Sox games had a new and unique option when Fenway Park added seats atop the famed Green Monster in 2003.
Since 1936, the Monster had a 23-foot net across it in order to trap home run balls and prevent damages to businesses on Lansdowne Street. With the removal of the net and the offseason addition of 274 new seats, spectators now had the opportunity to watch the Sox play with a bird's eye view of all the action.
The Sox roster underwent a makeover of its own with the addition of some key contributors. New general manager Theo Epstein brought in Bill Mueller, Kevin Millar and David Ortiz to boost the lineup and Mike Timlin to aid the bullpen.
The new faces immediately made Boston's offense dynamic, as the club finished with the highest batting average in all of baseball at .289 and led the majors in hits (1,667), doubles (371), RBIs (932), slugging percentage (.491) and OPS (.851). Mueller won the AL batting title with a .326 average, while teammate Manny Ramirez finished a close second at .325. Ortiz provided left-handed power to the middle of the lineup, blasting 31 home runs and driving in 101 runs. Millar contributed in the middle of the order as well, collecting a career-high 150 hits and 96 RBIs.
With the most explosive offense in the game, Boston made a return to the postseason by winning the American League wild card. Facing the AL West champion Oakland Athletics in the ALDS, the Sox fought back from an 0-2 series hole, drawing strength from Millar's rallying cry of "Cowboy Up" and winning three consecutive games, two by only one run.
The Red Sox advanced to the ALCS, where they met the rival Yankees in an emotional seven-game series. With the series tied 1-1, Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens faced off in Game 3 at Fenway. A benches-clearing brawl ensued when hitters took exception to some inside pitches, resulting in Martinez throwing Yankee bench coach Don Zimmer to the ground.
The back-and-forth series ended in heartbreak for Red Sox fans as Aaron Boone hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning in Game 7, sending New York to the World Series and extending the title-less streak for the Sox.
The disappointing loss could not dampen an otherwise enjoyable season at Fenway Park, which hosted a walk around the park on Mother's Day, the first annual "Picnic in the Park" to support the Red Sox foundation, two sold-out Bruce Springsteen concerts, and the first Christmas at Fenway event.
For more information on Fenway Park, visit Fenway Park 100.