Boston sports saw the end of an era Wednesday night, just not with a particular player — instead the sellout streak at Fenway Park. The streak officially came to an end as 30,862 fans showed up on a rainy evening to see the Sox host the Orioles in the second home game of the season. Capacity at Fenway is 37,400.
The streak dated back to May 15, 2003, and spanned 794 regular season games (820 including postseason). It is the longest streak in MLB history. The previous record was held by the Cleveland Indians, lasting from 1995 to 2001.
All three members of the Red Sox ownership group released statements about the streak.
“The streak is a reflection of a phenomenal period of baseball in Boston and of America's greatest ballpark,” said Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry. “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.”
Chairman Tom Werner added: “We have all experienced a wonderful combination of compelling baseball, a revitalized ballpark, and an atmosphere of warmth and hospitality. I’d like to thank publicly our players, coaches, managers, our architects, our designers and construction workers, and our front office and day of game ballpark staff. Their work, together, connected with the Red Sox Nation — passionate fans who helped take this team and this park to these heights. It is these fans to whom we are most grateful.”
President/CEO Larry Lucchino said: “We are proud of this historic achievement. Over the past 10 years, more than 30 million, many among the most sophisticated baseball fans in America, have purchased tickets to see games at Fenway Park. Never in that period was there a crowd less than 32,000. No other club in Major League Baseball can make that statement.”
Speaking prior to the game, general manager Ben Cherington acknowledged the disappointing season last year played a role in the streak coming to an end.
“We know that part of the reason it’s over is because we failed last year,” he said. “So we take that on us and take responsibility for that. Hopefully the focus of this is a remarkable run for our team and our fans. I remember a lot of pretty miserable, cold April rainy nights everyone sat through. For it to last as long as it did is amazing. So it’s on us to make sure the place is filled and start a new [streak] at some point.”
Cherington was also asked about the legitimacy of the streak, as there were many games last season where the park did not look anywhere near filled to capacity.
“Yeah, that is a question you’d have to ask someone else,” he said. “During that time every time I looked out the place was pretty full. That is a reflection of people wanting to come and see what is going on. … If we do things the right way and build the team the right way, show fans that we’re not just winning but playing the right way and we’re a team that fans can enjoy to root for, then they will show up. It’s too good a ballpark, too good a city.”
Although the streak has officially come to an end, the organization will look to start a new one, and they feel they have the right pieces in place to do so.
“My goal is to not only have a team that represents those teams that created that streak, but to have people come back into this ball park,” manager John Farrell said. “Although it may not be at capacity, I think every effort is being made to have that type of team that people want to watch. I think we’re on the right path to do that.”
Follow Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84