In 1945, the Red Sox struggled in their third consecutive losing season. Unfortunately, the Red Sox missed a chance to improve their team when they gave Jackie Robinson and two other African-American players an April 1945 tryout at Fenway Park but decided not to pursue the opportunity any further. Robinson would courageously break Major League Baseball's color barrier two years later. With World War II nearing an end, Fenway Park hosted a "Here's Your Infantry" show on Independence Day to help sell war bonds.

The Red Sox

Record: 71-83, 7th in American League
Manager: Joseph E. Cronin
Attendance: 603,794

The final year of World War II was a difficult one for the Red Sox, who fell to seventh place again. Even before the season began there were efforts to force the Red Sox to integrate the team. Boston City Councilor Isadore Muchnick announced he would file a motion to deny the Red Sox their annual Sunday license unless they pledged not to discriminate. On April 16, 1945, Jackie Robinson, Marvin Williams and Sam Jethroe were given a tryout at Fenway Park but the Red Sox never followed up.

Three days later, Joe Cronin suffered a career-ending broken leg, though he remained Manager through 1947. One bright spot n 1945 was 23-year old rookie Dave "Boo" Ferriss, who broke onto the scene and threw 22 innings before he surrendered a run. Ferriss started 6-0 and finished the season with a 21-10 record, 2.96 ERA and five shutouts. He was the best pitcher by far on a team whose 3.80 ERA was the league's highest. Offensively, 39-year old Bob Johnson's 74 RBIs and 12 homers were tops on a roster that featured several players who played just one season for the team, which was not unusual given the war.

Another adjustment due to the war was the cancellation of the All-Star Game, which Fenway Park was scheduled to host in 1945. Due to travel restrictions, the mid-summer AL vs. NL match-up was cancelled and the leagues scheduled inter-league charity games in eight different cities to be played instead. Boston's United War Fund Game, an 8-1 Red Sox victory over the Braves on July 10, was one of the eight games scheduled, though only seven were played. The following year, after World War II was over, Fenway Park finally hosted its first All-Star Game.

Renovations

In 1945, the road running along the right-field side of Fenway Park became a public street, Van Ness, and the area near the intersection of Van Ness Street and Jersey Street started to form as the a parking lot for the players.

Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park

On June 28, 1945, Archbishop Cushing held a field day at Fenway Park that included a pair of baseball games. In the first contest, the Cuban Stars defeated the Boston Colored Giants, 8-5. The second match-up pitted the top two CYO teams against each other, with Presentation CYO topping Holy Name CYO, 6-1. In early September, CYO baseball returned to Fenway Park as the CYO state title games were played there.

1945 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park
June 28Archbishop Cushing Field Day: Cuban Stars 8, Boston Colored Giants 5
June 28Archbishop Cushing Field Day: Presentation CYO (Brighton) 6, Holy Name CYO (Hyde Park) 1
September 2St. Marguerite (Lowell) 2, St. Joseph's (Needham) 1 (State CYO Title Game)
September 2Sacred Heart Malden 2, Sacred Heart of Atlantic 1 (State CYO Title Game)

More Than a Ballpark™

On Independence Day 1945, a "Here's Your Infantry" show at Fenway Park featured actress Helen Hayes. To be admitted to the show, patrons had to purchase one war bond, while men in uniform were let in free of charge. Before an audience of 20,000, there were demonstrations of hand-to-hand combat, the firing of rifles and machine guns, as well as flame throwers and bazookas. The Boston Yanks, meanwhile, merged with the Brooklyn Tigers in 1945 because of a shortage of players caused by the war. The team kept the Boston name and went 2-2 at Fenway Park that fall.

1945 Non-Baseball Events At Fenway Park
September 25Boston Yanks 28, Pittsburgh Steelers 7 (Football)
October 7Boston Yanks 28, Washington Redskins 20 (Football)
November 4Detroit Lions 10, Boston Yanks 9 (Football)
November 17Boston College 12, Scranton University 0 (Football)
November 18Green Bay Packers 28, Boston Yanks 0 (Football)
November 25Holy Cross 46, Boston College 0 (Football)

The 1946 World Series at Fenway Park (Credit: The Brearley Collection)