Posted by

Rich Kimball Rich Kimball
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Calling football at Fenway Park

Rate this item
(0 votes)
Calling football at Fenway Park (photo by Rich Kimball)

BOSTON - When you talk about the iconic stadiums in football history, places like Lambeau Field, the Rose Bowl and “The Horseshoe” at Ohio State come to find. Fenway Park would rank near the top of any list of similar baseball venues, but many forget that the home of the Green Monster has also hosted football since, well … before the Green Monster.

Since opening in 1912, Fenway has been the site of countless high school, college and pro gridiron contest, serving as the home of the then-Boston Patriots for much of their early history. Still, football became a rarity for a couple of decades until the forward-thinking folks at Fenway Sports Management decided to go back to the future.

Three college games were scheduled for this year, including a matchup of former Yankee Conference rivals Maine and UMass. As the radio voice of the Black Bears, I would have the opportunity to broadcast from the park I’d grown up loving.

My radio partner Bob Lucy and I arrived several hours before game time and secured a Lansdowne Street parking spot (one that would never be available for a Red Sox game) and then made our way to the media entrance.

Our first surprise of the day came when the Fenway folks told us we’d be using the NESN booth, broadcasting from the spot where Dave O’Brien, Jerry Remy and Dennis Eckersley spend their evenings throughout the Sox season. As we got off the fifth-floor elevator and made our way to the booth, pictures of legendary players and broadcasters adorned the walls; I was more than pleased to see that the framed picture outside our booth was that of my favorite Sox broadcaster of all time, the great Ned Martin.

The view from our perch behind home plate is incredible … if you’re doing a baseball game. For football, however, it had its issues. With the way the field was configured to fit the friendly confines, it was going to be a challenge. As we looked down, the gridiron stretched from the plate area out toward the right field bullpens, meaning plays at the opposite end zone would be roughly three miles away. Or at least it seemed that way at times.

Once our equipment was set up and functioning, we deciding to head down to the field to explore our surroundings for this special game. I’ve been on the field before, but this game provided a whole new level of access – we were able to check out the dugouts, the visitor’s clubhouse and the Green Monster. It was a little disorienting with no bases or pitcher’s mound, but the familiar ballpark landmarks like the Pesky Pole and the Ted Williams home run seat reminded us where we were, even as we viewed that distant red seat through the uprights of the goal post.

The players were clearly loving the chance to be on such hallowed athletic ground, posing for pictures in all the familiar spots. A highlight of the day came when a young man walked up and introduced himself as Victor Cruz, the former New York Giant. Cruz - a former roommate of Maine’s offensive coordinator Liam Coen at UMass - then made his way to injured Black Bear receiver Micah Wright, who is out for the rest of the season. Cruz gave Wright some encouragement and advice on how to handle being out of action. Familiar faces were everywhere, as we ran into former Maine and Boston College coach Jack Bicknell on our way back to the radio booth.

The game itself proved to be equal to the excitement of the setting, as the two teams scored three touchdowns in the first two minutes, including an amazing 95-yard kickoff return by Maine’s “Electric Ernie,” Earnest Edwards. Maine would battle back from a 17-point deficit to tie things at 24-24 in the third quarter; the Black Bears found themselves with a chance to win in the last six minutes before a drive stalled out and the Minutemen tacked on a late score to earn a 44-31 win – a score that was by no means indicative of the closeness of the game.

As we made our way out of Fenway and back to our car, we took one last look back at the old ballpark. Sure, a Maine win would’ve made it even sweeter but still - having the chance to call a game from the place where Williams and Yaz and yes, Cappelleti and Nance made their names was a night I won’t soon forget.

And to Eck, O’B and Rem Dawg? We cleaned up after ourselves. I promise.


The Maine Edge. All rights reserved. Privacy policy. Terms & Conditions.

Website CMS and Development by Links Online Marketing, LLC, Bangor Maine