Green Monster's a piece of baseball history

Originally Published: February 7, 2005
By Rob Neyer | ESPN Insider
When initially constructed in 1934, Fenway Park's famous left-field fence – in New England, simply "The Wall" – towered 37 feet high, wooden railroad ties covered with tin, and resting on a concrete base. As you might imagine, this made for some crazy caroms, especially after the tin had been dented by a few thousand line drives (when it comes to dents, batting practice counts, too). It was not green, however; until 1947, the upper 25 feet of The Wall were occupied by three gigantic billboards for Calvert Whiskey, Gem razor blades, and Lifebuoy Soap. It was certainly colorful, but the only green were the slivers not covered by the ads or the manually operated scoreboard.

The Wall will forever be in every Red Sox fan's heart.
Finally, though, in '47 the billboards were removed – in that period, the advertising was removed from most of the outfield walls around the majors – and The Wall as we know it was created. And in 1976, the railroad ties and tin were removed in favor of a more durable steel and Styrofoam, making for more uniform bounces. (The Wall still has some give, though; if you get extra-close, you'll see that it's pockmarked with many hundreds of tiny dents.)

Early on, The Wall wasn't widely known as "The Green Monster," or even "The Wall." According to my research, in the 1940s and '50s the wall was "the Fence" or "the Fenway Fence." By the 1970s, "The Wall" was commonly used, but "Green Monster" was still something of a rarity. In Ted Williams' autobiography, published in 1969, he didn't use "Monster" even once. In Carl Yastrzemski's autobiography, published in 1990, he referred to "the Wall" 59 times … but "the Green Monster" only four times. And to this day, most native New Englanders still refer to it as "The Wall," leaving "Green Monster" to greenhorns like me.