BOSTON -- On May 15, 2003, Pedro Martinez and the Red Sox beat the Rangers, 12-3. It was the first of 794 consecutive games -- 820, if you count the postseason -- to sell out Fenway Park.
On Wednesday night, that streak -- the longest in the history of professional sports -- came to an end. Only 30,862 tickets were sold for Wednesday's game, an 8-5 loss to the Orioles on a rainy night. The Sox knew well before Wednesday night that Opening Day would be the final sellout of the remarkable run, and also say that some other games this month are unlikely to sell out.
So Wednesday became a time to reflect on 10 years of packed houses.
“The streak is a reflection of a phenomenal period of baseball in Boston and of America's greatest ballpark,” Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry said in a written statement. “But more than that, it is a testament to the baseball passion of New England fans. As we close the book on this incredible era, we look forward to another with a renewed certainty that the next couple of generations of Red Sox fans will also be enjoying baseball at the ever magical Fenway Park.”
But the Red Sox know the end of the streak is due in part to their disastrous 2012 season.
“We know part of the reason it’s over is that we failed last year,” Sox general manager Ben Cherington said. “So we take responsibility for that. Hopefully the focus of this was that it was a remarkable run for the team and for our fans. I remember a lot of miserable, cold rainy nights when people sat there and for it to last as long as it is amazing. It’s on us now to make it start a new one at some point.”
Several players, along with manager John Farrell who was pitching coach from 2007-10, have never played in front of a home crowd that was not considered a sellout.
“It’s incredible,” Farrell said. “I don’t know that it’s matched anywhere in sports. It was clearly the result of a lot of success on the field, a lot of very good teams, very good superstar individual players . . . [We] fully understand that it’s the results of maybe some recent happenings here, but our goal is to not only have a team that represents those teams that created that streak, but to have people come back into this ballpark even though it might not be capacity. But I think that every effort is being made to have that type of team that people want to watch. I think we’re on the right path with that.”