Though the Red Sox finished with a losing record for the first time in the decade, 1919 was a busy year at Fenway Park. Perhaps the most memorable non-baseball event at the park was a rally in June, during which future Irish President Eamon De Valera delivered a speech to a capacity Fenway Park crowd.
Record: 66-71, 6th in American League
Manager: Edward G. Barrow
For the first time since 1908, the Red Sox finished below .500, going 66-71 en route to a distant sixth place finish.
Boston's top two pitchers were Herb Pennock (16-8, 2.71 ERA) and Allen Russell (10-4, 2.52 ERA). On May 20, Pennock pitched to the minimum 27 batters, despite giving up three singles. Babe Ruth won nine games but primarily played the outfield and was a star in the batter's box. In 1919, Ruth set a Major League Baseball single-season record with 29 home runs, four of which were grand slams.
The season started nicely with back-to-back shutouts, but it didn't take long to deteriorate and dissension soon permeated the clubhouse. On July 13, Carl Mays bolted the team mid-game, angry at the sloppy fieldwork behind him. Frazee traded Mays to the Yankees soon thereafter, triggering a lengthy controversy with American League President Ban Johnson.
During the September 1919 Boston Police Strike, there was a report that a gang of gunmen had travelled from New York planning to rob Fenway Park. With the local police unavailable, the state militia and volunteer policemen lined the streets outside the park before the team's September 11 doubleheader. Three days later, there was serious discussion about the Red Sox playing all their remaining "home" games at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field until the police strike was resolved.
September 20, 1919 was Babe Ruth Day at Fenway Park, and he hit his 27th home run of the season in what turned out to be his last game in Boston as a player for the Red Sox. In a sign of the rift between Ruth and the club, Ruth complained that Harry Frazee had made the star's wife pay for her own ticket. On the day after Christmas, Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees, borrowing $350,000 as part of the deal and putting up Fenway Park as collateral.
On August 23, 1919, Boston played New York at Fenway Park but it wasn't the Red Sox, Braves, Yankees, Dodgers, or Giants who took the field. Instead, the Boston Navy Yard edged the New York Navy Yard, 6-4.
|1919 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park|
|August 23||Boston Navy Yard 6, New York Navy Yard 4|
Fenway Park hosted a diverse roster of non-baseball events in 1919. In late June, future Irish President Eamon De Valera delivered a rousing speech in support of Irish independence. The Odd Fellows returned to Fenway Park on September 7 for a mass and ceremony trumpeting America's solidarity with England. In addition, several football games were played at the ballpark in 1919, with a particularly busy day on November 27. That day, two football games were played and a 10-mile race was held. The race started at Fenway Park and ended back at the ballpark during halftime of the St. Alphonsus vs. Pere Marquette football game.
|1916 Non-Baseball Events At Fenway Park|
|May 25||Spanish-American War Memorial Service*|
|June 29||Eamon De Valera Speech|
|September 7||Odd Fellows Religious Service|
|September 26||High School of Commerce 39, Revere High 0 (Football)|
|October 10||Boston English 20, Dorchester High 10 (Football)|
|October 12||Boston College High 9, Boston Latin 3 (Football)|
|October 30||Dorchester High 47, Mechanic Arts 0 (Football)|
|November 3||Boston Latin 7, High School of Commerce 0 (Football)|
|November 7||Boston College High 24, Dorchester High 7 (Football)|
|November 8||Rutgers 13, Boston College 7 (Football)|
|November 11||Boston College High 10, Boston English 0 (Football)|
|November 12||High School of Commerce 32, Brockton High 0 (Football)|
|November 14||Boston Latin 7, Dorchester High 0 (Football)|
|November 15||Boston College 9, Holy Cross 7 (Football)|
|November 18||Boston English 14, High School of Commerce 0 (Football)|
|November 27||10-mile New England Championship Run by the St. Alphonsus Association and the Dorchester Club starting and ending at Fenway Park.|
|November 27||St. Alphonsus 0, Pere Marquette Council, K of C 0 (Football)|
|November 27||Boston Latin 0, Boston English 0 (Football)|
|December 1||Boston College High 54, Mechanic Arts 0 (Football)|
*Started in the 1910s, a late May memorial service coinciding with the Memorial Day weekend was often held at Fenway Park through the mid-20th Century.
Thousands were turned away on a sunny Sunday afternoon as the cause of Irish freedom was celebrated at a mammoth Fenway Park ceremony highlighted by a rousing speech by US Senator David I. Walsh and future Irish President Eamon De Valera.
While introducing De Valera, Walsh remarked, "In form, face, intellect and the cause he represents, De Valera reminds me of Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, and as that great man took the shackles off the black man, the Lincoln of Ireland will take the shackles of tyranny and oppression from Ireland." (Boston Post, June 29, 1919)
De Valera's first words in Gaelic were drowned out by ear splitting applause and once he spoke in English the crowd continued to participate shouting the response "Lies, Lies" to De Valera's speculation that many in Ireland thought America had forsaken the cause of Irish freedom.
Among the resolutions unanimously resolved at the gathering by Walsh and endorsed by De Valera were:
That we return thanks to the United States Senate for their American patriotic and sympathetic actions in instructing the American delegates at Paris to bring the case of Ireland, through its representatives to the peace conference, that her case be heard.
That we declare ourselves unreservedly in favor of the independence of Ireland and demand that our government recognize the Irish Republic.
That we register our opposition to any purported League of Nations which does not protect all American rights and ideals and which binds us to guarantee the territorial integrity of the British and Japanese empires.