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The Extinct Whooping Baseball of Fenway Park!



Once upon a time there was a 600 Club, later a 406 Club, then just expensive seats that killed the Whooping Baseball.




If you were to ask an old-time fan from way back in Boston what he most misses about the past at Fenway Park, there could be a baker’s dozen list of features.

Years ago, perhaps decades ago, long before there was such a thing as the 600 Club or luxury boxes at Fenway, there was a lone booth above home plate where the TV-radio people sat. Usually it was for radio, as TV games were only televised on rare weekends. Another section was for owner Tom Yawkey and bigwigs.

Nearby were two or three rows of really expensive sky view boxes that cost almost $10 per seat. You had a little countertop table along the edge and looked down on the home plate net.

Below the fans, almost close enough to jump on, was the famous netting to protect fans behind the home plate from foul balls popped up regularly. Once in a while a ball became stuck in the net.

When the ball rolled off the net, fans would give a prolonged whoop until the ball hit the edge of the netting and came crashing down.

This ritual would happen each game, sometimes more than once.

Then, one day it stopped. Totally. We cannot find anyone who recalls why or when.

Some fans think the new configuration of the booths and stands behind home plate changed the wind patterns. Some think fans at Fenway lost interest after the infamous wave hit and beach balls became a distraction. Nowadays, fans make the “Youk” cry instead of the “Whoop” cry.

Young fans have no idea what sound we refer to. The whooping of the baseball off the net has gone the way of whooping cough and the whooping crane.

As Fenway approaches its 100th birthday, fans are asked about sounds and sights over the years to help reminisce.

Once, television sportscaster Ned Martin had to inform the viewing audience that the sound was not made by the ball rolling over the net, but by the exuberant fans watching it fall from foul territory back onto the playing field.

Many things of the past are gone, replaced by new rites and rituals, like singing “Sweet Caroline,” or finding the Gulf sign missing from the Boston skyline, but now an indelible image on the wall inside the park behind the stands.

Of all these remnants of the past seasons, we often think of the whooping foul balls of Fenway.  

Only the old ghosts of losing seasons hear them now. 

If you recall what happened to the disappearing whoop, please let us know.

Like fast-food hamburgers, the articles of William Russo come in wrapping paper with condiments included. Read his works like SEX, DRUGS, SPORTS & WHIMSY, volumes 1 and 2, on e-book.


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