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As it's so often happened in Fenway Park and Red Sox history, the surprise success of 1995 was followed by a disappointing encore campaign by the team. Manager Kevin Kennedy lost his job after an 85-77 season and Roger Clemens left via free agency at year's end. The University of Massachusetts won the 1996 Baseball Beanpot at Fenway Park in their first year playing in the tournament.

The Red Sox

Record: 85-77, 3rd in American League East
Manager: Kevin C. Kennedy
Attendance: 2,315,231

The big addition to the 1996 Red Sox roster was right-hander Tom Gordon. After a season-opening road trip, Boston returned to Fenway with a 1-5 record and had their home opener postponed due to snow. Gordon picked up a 9-1 victory in the rescheduled opener but Boston was six games out of first by April 12.

John Valentin provided one of the season's highlights when he hit for the cycle on June 6 at Fenway Park. Valentin remains the most recent Red Sox player to accomplish this feat.

Roger Clemens led the league with 257 strikeouts but his record stood at a modest 10-13 by season's end. From 1993 through 1996 Clemens compiled a record of 40-39 but on September 18, 1996, he repeated his 20-strikeout feat from 10 years earlier against Detroit. This time he did so without walking a single batter.

The Red Sox ended the year in third place with an 85-77 record. The day after the season concluded, the Red Sox fired Kevin Kennedy

During the offseason, Clemens filed for free agency and signed a lucrative deal with Toronto.

Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park

With Boston University dropping its baseball program, the University of Massachusetts took BU's place and won the 1996 Baseball Beanpot at Fenway Park. UMass defeated the two-time defending champions from Northeastern in a 1-0 pitchers' duel in the title game.

1996 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park
April 18Northeastern 9, Boston College 5 (Beanpot Semi-Finals)*
April 18University of Massachusetts 13, Harvard 2 (Beanpot Semi-Finals)*
April 23University of Massachusetts 1, Northeastern 0 (Beanpot Championship)*

*Starting in 1990, Fenway Park has hosted the annual Baseball Beanpot, baseball's version of the longstanding Boston hockey tradition. Originally, the competition featured the same schools that battle for Hockey Beanpot: Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern University and Harvard University. However, when BU dropped their baseball program after the 1995 season, the University of Massachusetts took their place. The Baseball Beanpot has been held at Fenway Park every year since its inception except for in 2004 and 2010, when the tournament was played at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton, MA.

Fenway Park in 1991 (Credit: Boston Red Sox)