10/16/2004 7:46 PM ET
Nosebleed seat forever a luxury
Splinter's record blast made spot stuff of legend
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
|Marked in Red Sox red, the seat where Ted Williams' record home run landed is a Fenway fixture. (MLB.com)
BOSTON -- It sits there like a beacon, a shiny red gem in a sea of green. The next time you're in Fenway Park, check it out.
Go to Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21, out there in the right-field bleachers, exactly 502 feet from home plate. For $22 during the regular season, it can be yours. It's been marked up to a 50-spot for the playoffs.
This seat is the spot where the longest home run in Fenway history landed, a blast off the bat of the most legendary Sox player of them all, Ted Williams.
The date was June 9, 1946, the pitcher was Fred Hutchinson of the Detroit Tigers, and then-Sox shortstop Johnny Pesky remembers it "like it was yesterday."
"I'm pretty sure I was on base," says Pesky, 85, a Sox special assistant who can often be seen milling around the Boston dugout with a fungo bat during infield practice.
"It was a nice, calm day, not a lot of wind, and that ball just kept going and going and going," Pesky says. "Some guys now don't believe it could have traveled that far. But Williams was real strong."
Whether he was strong enough to hit the longest home run in Fenway history has been debated for years.
Pesky says Jeff Burroughs, the father of current Padres third baseman Sean Burroughs, who starred for the Texas Rangers in the 1970s, hit one out to center field that might have been longer.
And who knows how far away some of those moonshots over the Green Monster in left actually land?
After all, once they clear the Monster, and now the seats on top of the Monster, they either land on Lansdowne Street or on top of the parking garage behind Lansdowne Street.
They might even carry all the way onto the Massachusetts Turnpike, although you figure you'd hear about a nasty 15-car pileup if that ever happened.
Rumor has it that current Sox slugger Manny Ramirez belted one so far over the Green Monster in 2001 that it was estimated at 505 feet, but the Red Sox general manager at the time, Dan Duquette, ordered that it be listed at 501, preserving the Splendid Splinter's legacy.
As for Williams' famous clout to right, that one has some legend behind it, too.
"Williams hit it so high and far that it was tough for people to see it," Pesky says. "There was a guy sitting in the seat with a straw hat on, and it went straight through the hat. In this day and age, that ball -- and maybe that hat, too -- would have to be worth about a hundred thousand dollars."
But before Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, the seat it hit is still worth only $50, and according to the man who's sitting in it for Saturday's game, it might not even be worth that much.
"I realize that there's a lot of history to it, but there's a lot of history in every seat in this ballpark," says Jim Rowntree, who works in computers in Nashua, N.H. "This seat, quite frankly, is just not a very good seat."
Rowntree has a point.
Being 502 feet from home plate isn't exactly easy on the eyes, and if there's a great play made at the wall in right or a pivotal home run just happens to sneak over the short fence and into the bullpen, you probably won't see it from the Ted seat.
"There's not really a bad seat in here," Rowntree admits. "And I guess if you're anywhere in the park for an ALCS game against the Yankees, you should be happy about it."
For Game 3, plenty of people are.
Hours before the game started, concession workers and Sox fans Casie Madden and Elise Dewey of Boston take turns sitting in the seat and draw some ire from a co-worker for taking a break.
"We had to see it," says Madden, 20. "I've been coming here for five years and kept hearing about it, but I never saw it. It's kind of a big deal for Red Sox fans, so it's nice to finally see it."
Rowntree can agree on that.
"I've been a Sox fan since 1967 and I remember walking in here for the first time with my father," Rowntree says.
"I guess every little piece of this place brings back good memories for a lot of people."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.