#Shortstops: A Shot in the Park
Fenway Park has one of the richest histories of any Major League Baseball stadium. Even still, Fenway’s history would only deepen in the months leading up to the 2021 season.
On May 29, 2021, Boston fans filled Fenway to watch the Red Sox take on the Miami Marlins. While the crowd looked similar to most games of Fenway’s past, this one took on an entirely new significance. It was the first Red Sox home game at full fan capacity in nearly two years. In the games leading up to May 29, Fenway’s fan capacity was limited to just 25 percent. And just a season prior in 2020, no fans were allowed at Boston’s home games.
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While Fenway typically shuts down for the winter while players and fans endure the New England weather, the 2021 off-season was quite the opposite. Health care workers utilized the park to administer the newly-approved COVID-19 vaccines.
Starting in February 2021, eligible individuals in the Boston area were able to receive their vaccine doses at Fenway. The ballpark started by giving around 500 shots per day and ended with administering thousands per day.
Mass-vaccination sites were not uncommon to find at professional sports stadiums in 2021, especially around MLB. Among many others, some iconic venues like Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and Yankee Stadium in New York opened their doors for those wishing to get vaccinated.
Dodger Stadium in particular was already serving as a mass-testing site for COVID-19 before the vaccine was approved.
Baseball was part of a universal effort to slow the spread of the virus. At this time, members of all different industries around the world were pitching in to help health care workers and essential workers get their difficult jobs done. Opening mass vaccination sites was important in allowing everyone in these respective areas access to the free vaccine.
But perhaps another motive for baseball’s active response to the pandemic was so they could finally welcome their fans back to their stadiums.
The efforts from baseball and healthcare workers everywhere during the off-season were a success. Baseball’s energetic crowds were restored at Fenway and at all ballparks at some point in the 2021 season. Fans would now cheer for their home teams and celebrate the sense of normalcy that was brought back to American life.
A pin given to patrons receiving the vaccine at Fenway Park is preserved in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s collection to show future generations the unusual challenge baseball, and the entire world, faced during the pandemic.
Casey Barrasso is the 2022 membership intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development