Baseball base

Feb. 1, 1954

Suggest that Fenway Park will be less-than full for Opening Day and prepare to be dismissed as silly.

There was a time when someone predicting a packed house at the opener would share the same fate. A prime example would be Opening Day, 1967. The Red Sox and White Sox played on a chilly April afternoon before an announced attendance of 8,324. 

Even beyond the season that solidified the franchise, fans didn’t fill the old yard for the opener.

Boston Globe scribe Hy Hurtwitz’s campaign to drum up interest in the 1954 opener against the Senators received a snarling response from at least one reader. Hurwitz reported that Edward A. Modest of Brighton, Mass., wrote, “You write, fill Fenway Park (on) April 15. Why?”

Presumably, the Red Sox’ fourth-place finish in 1953 influenced Modest’s query.

The fact that the Braves fled Boston during spring training in 1953 must have had some impact.

Hurtwitz’s response: “It would be another black eye for Boston as a sports town if the Fenway Park attendance figures for April 15 were the lowest in the majors, which is possible unless an effort is made to get the fans out.”

Hurwitz could claim victory when a crowd of 17,272 was on hand to see the Red Sox beat Washington, 6-1.