It Took 20 Years for Red Sox to Play Sunday Game at Fenway

Fenway Park opened in spectacular fashion on April 20, 1912, with 24,000 rooting on the Boston Red Sox to a 7-6 win in 11 innings over the rival New York Highlanders, pushing Boston’s record to 5-1 in a campaign that would end with a 105-47 record and a World Series title. Conversely, the Highlanders, who would later become the Yankees, dropped to 0-6 and would finish their season in last place with a 50-102 mark.

But one aspect of Fenway Park’s first season and many more to follow that would likely surprise baseball fans today: No games were played there on Sundays. However, this was common throughout the country during this time, but what was not common was how long it took for that law to be lifted in Boston as, within six years of Fenway Park opening, Sunday games had already been legalized for most major league stadiums.

It took all the way until 1929 for the city of Boston to get on board with baseball games on Sunday. However, one caveat in the new law caused this change to have no effect on Fenway Park: Games could not be played at facilities located within 100 yards of a church, and the Red Sox’s home was.

But that didn’t keep the club from taking advantage of the rule change as it then started playing home games on Sundays at Braves Field, the home of the National League’s Boston Braves. It was just a mile away so was not much of an inconvenience to the team or its fans. An impressive crowd of 23,000 attended the first Sunday game played here on April 28, 1929, a 7-3 loss to the Philadelphia Athletics.

Three years later, the minister at that church was asked if he cared about Fenway Park being used for Sunday games, and he said no since the games would start after the church services ended.

At long last, on July 3, 1932, Fenway Park played host to a Sunday game. Unfortunately, it ended up being about the opposite of that glorious first game in 1912 as, on this day, the Red Sox were crushed by the Yankees, 13-2, in front of just 9,000, and Boston would finish in last place that campaign with a 43-111 record while New York would win the World Series after completing its regular season with a 107-47 mark.