The United States entered World War II at the end of 1941 but President Roosevelt wanted baseball to continue in order to keep up national morale. In addition to the Red Sox, who finished the season with a 53-24 home record, several other baseball games were played at the ballpark in 1942 as well, including a Negro League contest in early September. Later in the month, the Chicago Bears came to Fenway Park to play a team of Army All-Stars in a charity football game to benefit the war effort.
Record: 93-59, 2nd in American League
Manager: Joseph E. Cronin
Just 10 weeks after Ted Williams completed his historic .406 season, the United States plunged into war after the attack on Pearl Harbor and soon athletes were pressured to enlist. After some debate about cancelling baseball for the duration of the war, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued a "green light" for baseball to continue as a way to maintain the country's morale.
Ted Williams was exempted from service as the sole supporter of his mother but many condemned him for not joining. Throughout spring training, however, servicemen at exhibition ballgames loudly cheered the left fielder. Both Williams and rookie shortstop Johnny Pesky enlisted in a U.S. Naval flight training program, attending classes in Boston at night while playing baseball during the day.
Williams' average "dropped" to a league-leading .356. His 36 homers and 137 RBIs also led the American League, clinching the Triple Crown. It was the first of two Triple Crowns which Williams won but he finished second in MVP voting. The Yankees' Joe Gordon won the award, despite not leading the league in anything but striking out and grounding into double plays. Pesky collected an AL-best 205 hits and placed third in the MVP voting in his first season.
Tex Hughson went 22-6 with a 2.59 ERA and Charlie Wagner won 14 games. For the second straight year, the Red Sox cut their team ERA by three-quarters of a run (from 4.19 in 1941 to 3.44 in 1942). The 1942 Red Sox won 93 games, their highest total since 1915, but finished second to the Yankees again, nine games behind.
In 1942, a press box for football games, and other events, was built on the right-field roof near the 50-yard line. Given "temporary" status to remain until 1952, the wooden structure was used until 1948, when the press level was renovated before the 1949 Red Sox season.
After hosting a high school baseball game in June, Fenway Park held three unique non-Red Sox baseball games in early September 1942. First, before the Red Sox game on September 5, two military teams, one from Fort Devens in Massachusetts and one from Fort Terry in New York, played at Fenway Park for the championship of the First Service Command. Three days later, on September 8, the first Negro League exhibition game was played at Fenway Park with the Philadelphia Stars defeating the Baltimore Elite Giants. Rounding out an interesting week of baseball, the Boston Park League held the final game of their seven-game championship series at Fenway Park on September 10. In the Park League finals, the Dick Casey Club of Dorchester defeated the Navy Yard A.A. of Charlestown behind the pitching of Pete Cerrone, a Red Sox equipment man who often threw batting practice at Fenway Park and boasted over 400 career wins in his semi-pro baseball career.
|1942 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park|
|June 20||Turners Falls 5, Arlington High 4|
|September 5||Fort Devens 6, Fort Terry 2 (First Service Command Championship)|
|September 8||Philadelphia Stars 8, Baltimore Elite Giants 7 (Negro National League)|
|September 10||Dick Casey Club Defeats Navy Yard A.A. (Boston Park League)|
Boston College's football team won its first eight games at Fenway Park in 1942, and entered a November 28 showdown against Holy Cross with the first overall ranking in the country. Under blizzard conditions, the Crusaders crushed the Eagles in a 55-12 upset, ending Boston College's hopes for a national title. The game did include a significant silver lining however, as BC had planned a celebration at the Coconut Grove nightclub after the game but cancelled their plans following the defeat. A fire at the Coconut Grove that evening killed 492 patrons and injured hundreds more in the second-worst single building fire in American history.
|1942 Non-Baseball Events At Fenway Park|
|May 17||War Memorial Service*|
|September 20||Chicago Bears vs. Army All-Stars Charity Game (Football)|
|October 3||Boston College 33, West Virginia 0 (Football)|
|October 10||Boston College 14, Clemson 7 (Football)|
|October 17||Boston College 7, North Carolina Preflight Cloudbusters 6 (Football)|
|October 24||Boston College 27, Wake Forest 0 (Football)|
|October 31||Boston College 47, Georgetown 0 (Football)|
|November 7||Boston College 28, Temple 0 (Football)|
|November 14||Boston College 56, Fordham 6 (Football)|
|November 21||Boston College 37, Boston University 0 (Football)|
|November 28||Holy Cross 55, Boston College 12 (Football)|
|November 29||Charlestown Town Team 7, South Boston Chippewas (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.
On a day where front page headlines told of Allied bombing raids on Munich and tin can scrap drives on the home front, the mighty Chicago Bears overcame both a muddy field and a team of Eastern Army All-Stars before a capacity crowd at Fenway Park. It was the Bears' second straight appearance in the annual American Legion charity game in Boston, which had previously pitted an NFL team against a group of college all-stars but, with the United States having entered World War II, the 1942 game took on a military theme.
The Bears were led by former New England collegiate stars Charlie O'Rourke (Boston College), Frank Maznicki (Boston College), Ray McLean (St. Anselm) Gary Farmighetti (Boston University), and Bill Osmanski (Holy Cross). However, the biggest cheer of the day went to Norm Standlee of the Army All-Stars when he made the Stars' only touchdown in the third quarter.
The day was also highlighted by several hours of military drills and band music prior to the 2 PM kickoff. At half-time, the crowd was introduced to Lieutenant Lyudmila Pavlichenko, a Russian Army sniper credited with personally killing 309 Nazis to date.