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In 1944, World War II continued and the Red Sox roster remained depleted due to players serving overseas. In the fall, the Boston Yanks went 1-3 at Fenway Park in their first year as members of the NFL and on November 4, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt came to Fenway Park and gave the final campaign speech of his career, just three days before being reelected for his fourth term in the White House.

The Red Sox

Record: 77-77, 4th in American League
Manager: Joseph E. Cronin
Attendance: 506,975

With team rosters still askew due to the war, the Red Sox went 77-77 and finished in fourth place, a slot in the standings they held every day throughout September. However, as late as August 29, Boston had been in second place and were making a legitimate run at the pennant.

Bobby Doerr and 38-year-old Bob Johnson were the team's best hitters, with Doerr hitting .325 and Johnson just one point lower. However, Doerr was inducted into the Army on September 3, 1944, after he had previously been exempt with a punctured eardrum. In his absence, the Red Sox fell apart. Baseball writers recognized Doerr's importance to the team by choosing him as the club's MVP, even though he missed almost all of September.

On the mound, Tex Hughson went 18-5 with a 2.26 ERA, while 41-year old Mike Ryba notched a 12-7 record, and 34-year-old Joe Bowman won more games than he'd ever won before, going 12-8.

In a dramatic fashion, 27-year-old rookie Rex Cecil entered a major league ballpark for the first time in his life on August 13. He'd flown cross-country from San Diego (this took quite some time in 1944) and came to Fenway Park just in time to get fitted for a uniform before entering the game with the bases loaded, which was tied 6-6 in the top of the 10th inning. Cecil kept the Browns from scoring for four innings and in the bottom of the 13th, Doerr homered to win the game.

Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park

On May 8, 1944, the Cleveland Indians played an intrasquad game at Fenway Park. The Indians were scheduled to face the Red Sox on May 10 but they arrived in town a couple days early, while the Red Sox were playing an exhibition game at the Quonset Point, Rhode Island Naval Air Station. While waiting, the Indians played a pick-up game at Fenway Park.

1944 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park
May 8Cleveland Indians Intrasquad Game
May 26Homestead Grays vs. Fore River Shipyard

More Than a Ballpark™

In 1944, the Boston Yanks were founded and joined the NFL, using Fenway Park as their home. The Yanks dropped their first three games at Fenway Park in 1944 but wrapped up their first home season with a win over Brooklyn on November 19. A far larger crowd than any seen at a Yanks' game in 1944 packed Fenway Park on October 14 and saw Notre Dame pummel Dartmouth, while Boston College's football team also played at the park that month.

The most historic event at Fenway Park in 1944 took place on November 4, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered his final major public address before the November 7, 1944 presidential election. Three days later, Roosevelt won re-election but he died the following April, shortly after beginning his fourth term in the White House. His speech at Fenway Park in 1944 was the last campaign speech of his political career.

1944 Non-Baseball Events At Fenway Park
September 26Philadelphia Eagles 28, Boston Yanks 7 (Football)
October 8New York Giants 22, Boston Yanks 10 (Football)
October 14Notre Dame 64, Dartmouth 0 (Football)
October 15Washington Redskins 21, Boston Yanks 14 (Football)
October 28Boston College 19, Syracuse 12 (Football)
November 4Franklin Delano Roosevelt Campaign Speech
November 19Boston Yanks 13, Brooklyn Tigers 6 (Football)
November 26Holy Cross 30, Boston College 14 (Football)

November 4, 1944
 FDR Addresses Over 40,000 Supporters at Fenway Park

Before a crowd of more than 40,000 (and with several thousand more outside the ballpark), President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his final speech of the 1944 campaign - and what turned out to be the final campaign speech of his political career. After entertainers Frank Sinatra and Orson Welles had warmed up the crowd, Roosevelt began his oration by recalling a previous visit to Boston. From there he proceeded to take aim at "bigots" and proponents of "religious intolerance, social intolerance, and political intolerance." Emphasizing the idea of the United States as a melting pot, the incumbent President connected those overarching values to the concrete reality of a diverse American military force still fighting for freedom on the battlefields of Europe and Asia. Roosevelt never mentioned Republican opponent Thomas Dewey by name, but more generally alluded to his political opponents several times during the speech. Three days later, Roosevelt won a fourth presidential term with a resounding victory in the national election, where he picked up 432 of a possible 531 electoral votes.

The 1946 World Series at Fenway Park (Credit: The Brearley Collection)