On April 22, UMass pitcher Scott Barnsby threw a no-hitter against Northeastern in their semi-final matchup in the Basebll Beanpot. It was the first no-hitter at Fenway Park since Dave Morehead's in 1965. Before the 1997 season, three giant Coke bottles were added to one of the left-field light towers above the Green Monster and during the season, the Fenway crowd was introduced to rookie sensation Nomar Garciaparra.

The Red Sox

Record: 78-84, 4th in American League East
Manager: James F. Williams
Attendance: 2,226,136

Nomar Garciaparra debuted for the Red Sox in 1997 and earned the AL Rookie of the Year award in a unanimous vote. Leading off and playing shortstop, Garciaparra became the first rookie in history to hit over .300, slug 30 home runs, collect more than 90 RBIs and steal over 20 stolen bases. His 30-game hitting streak in August also set a rookie record.

Roger Clemens had departed over the winter and left a vacuum in the rotation. After the team started the season with eight games on the road, new southpaw Steve Avery pitched the home opener at Fenway Park and allowed Seattle just one earned run through five innings. However, the Mariners eventually pulled out a 5-4 victory. Clemens returned to Fenway Park in July as a member of the Blue Jays and struck out 16 Boston hitters in a 3-1 Toronto victory.

The Red Sox never mounted much of a threat, though they did post a 6-3 record against NL teams in the first year of interleague play.

While the season was an uneventful one, the Red Sox completed two seminal trades in 1997. At the late July trading deadline, the Red Sox sent struggling reliever Heathcliff Slocumb to Seattle, acquiring minor leaguers Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe. During the offseason, the team acquired NL Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez from the Montreal Expos, surrendering Carl Pavano and a player to be named later (Tony Armas Jr.).

Renovations

In March 1997, a giant 25-foot Coca-Cola bottle was attached to one of the light towers above the Green Monster. Less than two weeks later, two more Coke bottles were added. They remained prominent fixtures of the ballpark until they were taken down in 2008.

In April 1997, Jackie Robinson's number 42 was officially retired across Major League Baseball on the 50th anniversary of when he broke the color barrier. Today, Robinson's blue #42 can be seen alongside the numbers of Red Sox legends on the right-field roof façade.

The batting cage under the center-field bleacher seats, which was built in 1971, underwent renovations in May 1997. Today, this area is home to the Bleacher Bar restaurant.

Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park

For the second year in a row, the University of Massachusetts team was crowned champion of the Baseball Beanpot at Fenway Park. On April 22, in UMass pitcher Scott Barnsby pitched a no-hitter against Northeastern in their semi-final matchup. It was the first no-hitter at Fenway Park since Dave Morehead's in 1965.

1997 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park
April 22University of Massachusetts 1, Northeastern 0 (Beanpot Semi-Finals)*
April 22Harvard 9, Boston College 2 (Beanpot Semi-Finals)*
April 24University of Massachusetts 11, Harvard 4 (Beanpot Championship)*

*Starting in 1990, Fenway Park has hosted the annual Baseball Beanpot, baseball's version of the longstanding Boston hockey tradition. Originally, the competition featured the same schools that battle for Hockey Beanpot: Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern University and Harvard University. However, when BU dropped their baseball program after the 1995 season, the University of Massachusetts took their place. The Baseball Beanpot has been held at Fenway Park every year since its inception except for in 2004 and 2010, when the tournament was played at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton, MA.

Fenway Park in 1991 (Credit: Boston Red Sox)