Over the offseason before the 1971 Red Sox season, the club renovated an area under the center-field bleachers and converted the space into pitching tunnels that could be used as batting cages as well. Using the new practice space, the Red Sox started fast but then dropped off as the summer continued. However, despite the disappointment of late summer, Fenway Park led the league in attendance and a fertile farm system offered hope for the near future.
Record: 85-77, 3rd in American League East
Manager: Edward M. Kasko
The Red Sox held onto first place from late April to early June but slowly slipped back over the late summer months and ended the season in third place with an 85-77 record.
The crowds flocked to Fenway Park in 1971 and Boston led the league in attendance again. Pitcher Sonny Siebert began the season 9-0 to pace the club's hot start. Siebert was also a force with the bat and hit six home runs during the season, including two over the Green Monster in a September 2 victory over Baltimore (making him the last AL pitcher to hit two home runs in a game). Siebert finished the year with 16 wins, while Gary Peters and Ray Culp each notched 14 victories. Luis Tiant also joined the staff in mid-May, beginning a long and successful career in Boston.
Reggie Smith led the team with 30 home runs, 96 RBIs and a .283 batting average. While Carl Yastrzemski had an off-year, Rico Petrocelli and George Scott picked up some of the slack (with 28 and 24 homers, respectively) and Boston's total of 161 home runs was the league's second highest. Somewhat counteracting this power was the team batting average of .252.
The team had exciting youth on the horizon, with Bill Lee and Roger Moret ready to help the pitching staff and an exciting core of young position players coming up, which included Carlton Fisk, Cecil Cooper, Ben Oglivie, Rick Miller and Juan Beniquez.
Prior to the 1971 season, the Red Sox created an area under the center-field bleachers to house two pitching alleys that were also used as batting cages. The area was used by the Red Sox until 2005 and by visiting teams until 2007.
The final William Randolph Hearst Sandlot Tournament game at Fenway Park resulted in a 6-6 tie between the Record Americans and the Sunday Advertisers.
|1971 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park|
|August 2||William Randolph Hearst Sandlot Tournament: Record Americans 6, Sunday Advertisers 6 (tie, 11 innings)|
In 1971, Fenway Park hosted its last Junior Goodwill Dinner, an event that Joe Cronin started at the ballpark in 1952. In 1972, the dinner was moved to the Statler Hilton, which today is known as the Boston Park Plaza Hotel.
|1971 Non-Baseball Events At Fenway Park|
|January 27||Junior Goodwill Dinner*|
*For several years, Fenway Park hosted a Junior Goodwill Dinner that brought hundreds of local high school students to the ballpark. The tradition was started by Red Sox legend Joe Cronin and the event typically took place in late January.