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Pats' Past: Fenway Park

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There was a time when the Patriots called the Red Sox' stadium their home.

Patriots vs. Oilers at Fenway Park. Notice the uniforms on the sideline.
Patriots vs. Oilers at Fenway Park. Notice the uniforms on the sideline.
talesfromtheamericanfootballleague.com

In the summer of 1963, the Boston Patriots had to move. Their stadium lease at Nickerson Field, where the team played its first three seasons, expired and owner Billy Sullivan and his franchise had to look for a new home. They found one 1.5 miles east: Fenway Park.

"We felt like we were legitimate because it was a major league venue," Patriots legend Gino Cappelletti recalls the first time the team entered the sacred confines of Fenway. The ballpark, of course, has been the home of the Boston Red Sox – the city's most popular sports team at that time – since 1912.

Since Fenway Park was not built to house two different kinds of sports, adjustments needed to be made in order to make the stadium football-friendly. One of those adjustments was erecting a temporary grandstand in left fieldin front of the Green Monster. Another was changing the configuration of team benches. The permanent seats along the first base line did not rise very high above the playing field and in order to secure an unobstructed view from all seats, both teams' benches were located on the same side of the field, in front of the temporary grandstand.

On October 11, 1963 – week 6 of the AFL's 1963 season – the Patriots played their first ever game at their new stadium against the visiting Oakland Raiders. It was the first professional football game played at Fenway Park since December 1948, when the Boston Yanks defeated the visiting Philadelphia Eagles 37-14. The Patriots won their game against the Raiders 20-14 and would go on to finish the year 7-6-1 with a 5-1-1 record in Boston (4-1-1 at Fenway; the team played its season opener at Boston College's Alumni Stadium).

Overall, the Patriots played 38 games at Fenway Park, which they called their home from 1963 until 1968. When the franchise left prior to its 1969 season (to play at the above-mentioned Alumni Stadium), the Patriots' record was 16-17-5.

Their final game at Fenway was played on December 1, 1968 against the Cincinnati Bengals. The game ended 33-14 in the Patriots' favor. It was the last time a professional football game has been played at the Red Sox' home field. College football at Fenway still took place every now and then and will return in 2015 when Boston College will host Notre Dame (November 21). Pro football at Fenway Park seems like a long-shot, though: it is highly unlikely that the Patriots will return one day – at least to play football.