FENWAY IN THESE YEARS WAS A FREQUENT CONSTRUCTION SITE, AS IT UNDERWENT major renovations to the stands for the first time in nearly 50 years. At a cost of some $20 million, the park got a taste of luxury and comfort with the addition of glass-enclosed club seats behind home plate and private suites atop the left- and rightfield stands, some 2,000 additional prime seats in all.
With the structure behind home plate towering almost 30 feet higher after the additions, hitters contended that the wind conditions within Fenway had changed, making it harder to homer. "Balls didn't travel as well after that, especially to leftfield," says Sox announcer Joe Castiglione, who has been calling games since 1983. "Wade Boggs was the first to say so. And he would know since he hit that wall so much." Management denied the claims (the new seats, incidentally, were bringing in gobs of revenue), but independent studies showed that the currents were strange and erratic. Eyewitnesses could confirm—noting, for example, that the flags atop the centerfield wall and above that new 600 Club behind home could be blowing in different directions at the same time.
Fewer dingers? The decade leading up to the overhaul—which was completed in 1988—featured 162 homers a season, second to Atlanta--Fulton County Stadium for the most during that time. That average fell to 141 during the postrenovation '90s, despite a rise in homers throughout the majors.
However the wind blew, there were changes on the diamond. The departures of Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk and Fred Lynn signified the end of an era. In came a Red Sox team built largely around pitching. As it went to the World Series in '86 and to the playoffs in '88, Boston's rotation included Bruce Hurst, Oil Can Boyd and, of course, Roger Clemens, who had a fastball, a dominance and an ornery side that gave batters more to fear at Fenway than the air fluctuations.