After a busy offseason during which the Red Sox acquired Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell, the Red Sox began the 2006 season strong but unraveled due to a slew of injuries in the second half. Fenway Park also debuted the EMC Club and State Street Pavilion Level en lieu of the .406 Club and old roof box seats. Along with its annual concert (2006 featured Dave Matthews Band), Fenway park also hosted the first "Futures at Fenway" minor league doubleheader in August. After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2002, the Red Sox signed Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka.

The Red Sox

Record: 86-76, 3rd in American League East
Manager: Terry J. Francona
Attendance: 2,930,588

The 2006 season began with high hopes but the Red Sox were devastated by injuries and failed to make the postseason for the first time since 2002.

On April 11, the newly acquired Josh Beckett won the team's home opener and Jonathan Papelbon earned his fourth save of the young season. In 2006, Papelbon converted his first twenty save opportunities in his first year as Boston's closer.

One of the season's most dramatic moments came at the beginning of May. With catcher Josh Bard struggling to catch Tim Wakefield's knuckleball through the season's first few weeks, Doug Mirabelli was reacquired from the Padres. Mirabelli flew from coast-to-coast and was whisked to Fenway Park in a police car, where he arrived just minutes before the first pitch and caught a 7-3 Wakefield victory on May 1.

On June 27, the club honored the 1986 American League Champion Red Sox team before that night's game against the New York Mets, who they met in the 1986 Fall Classic 20 years prior. Participants who were introduced to the Fenway Park crowd included Wade Boggs, Bruce Hurst, Dwight Evans, Jim Rice, Al Nipper, Marty Barrett, Oil Can Boyd and the team's manager, Joe Morgan. The next night, the Fenway Park crowd welcomed back Pedro Martinez who made his first start against the Red Sox since leaving the team after the 2004 season.

Jason Varitek tore cartilage in his knee on July 31 and wouldn't return until September. Varitek's loss was one of many, as the malady-ravaged Red Sox went 9-21 in August. The lowest point might have been a gruesome, five-game sweep by the Yankees at Fenway Park late in the month, which brought back memories of 1978's "Boston Massacre," when the Yankees visited Boston and took all four games of an early September series against the Red Sox.

Though the team continued to struggle, David Ortiz set a single-season, franchise record with 54 home runs, breaking the mark previously held by Jimmie Foxx. Though the team finished third in the AL East, it wasn't due to poor defense as the 2006 Red Sox compiled a MLB record fielding percentage of .98909.

On the last day of the season, Nicaragua-born Devern Hansack threw five no-hit innings in a rain-shortened 9-0 victory but he was not credited with an official no-hitter.

Following the disappointing season, the Red Sox won the right to negotiate with Japanese star pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka and signed him in the proverbial 23rd hour of the negotiating window.

Renovations

Following the 2005 season, the third and fourth levels of Fenway Park underwent massive renovations. The glass of the .406 Club, which had separated fans in the club from the field, was taken down and the space was split into two open-air seating areas: the EMC Club on the third level and the State Street Home Plate Pavilion Club above. The EMC Club offered its members à la carte dining, a dedicated concierge and three full service bars while the Home Plate Pavilion Club provided an upscale buffet to accommodate its larger capacity. Both clubs offered some of the best views of the field and provided Fenway Park with new year-round function space that has enabled many groups and parties to host events at the ballpark. The Red Sox Hall of Fame plaques also found a new home in the hallway outside the EMC Club

On the fourth level of the ballpark, in addition to the Home Plate Pavilion Club, the team replaced the roof box seats with the Pavilion Club and Box sections. This new pavilion level included new restrooms, concessions and concourse space while adding over 1,000 club and box seats, which increased Fenway Park's seating capacity to 35,108.

In addition to the construction of the State Street Pavilion Level and EMC Club, the team removed the centralized speaker cluster in center field and replaced it with a new distributed sound system to provide a greatly enhanced level of sound quality and coverage in the ballpark.

To improve ingress near Gate D, a new staircase was built at the corner of Yawkey Way and Van Ness Street that cut over the player's parking lot to join the back of the First Base Deck and the ramp at Gate D on the grandstand level.

On September 27, 2006 the right-field foul pole, nicknamed Pesky Pole for decades, was officially dedicated to Johnny Pesky, who celebrated his 87th birthday that day.

Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park

Fenway Park staged its first Futures at Fenway minor league doubleheader in 2006. The Lowell Spinners, Short-Season A Ball affiliate of the Red Sox in the New York-Penn League, beat the Oneonta Tigers in the first game, before the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox beat the Rochester Red Wings, 5-4. Earlier in the year, Boston College won the 2006 Baseball Beanpot at Fenway Park,

2006 Non-Red Sox Baseball At Fenway Park
April 25Boston College 10, Harvard 2 (Beanpot Championship)*
April 25Northeastern 7, University of Massachusetts 6 (Beanpot Consolation)*
August 26Futures at Fenway: Lowell Spinners 3, Oneonta Tigers 1
August 26Futures at Fenway: Pawtucket Red Sox 5, Rochester Red Wings 4

*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.

More Than a Ballpark™

With the 2006 NCAA Women's Final Four being played in Boston, Fenway Park greeted basketball fans for a ballpark-wide party on April 1. At the end of May, Massachusetts Senior Senator Edward Kennedy hosted an event celebrating the release of his book "My Senator and Me." Fenway Park also welcomed a series of musical events in 2006: Dave Matthews Band and Sheryl Crow played at the park twice in July, while the group Train performed during a Microsoft Tech Ed Conference party in June. The second annual "Hot Stove, Cool Music" concert was moved into Fenway Park's Big Concourse due to rain but the acts, including an appearance by James Taylor, still put on a great show.

2006 Non-Baseball Events At Fenway Park
April 1NCAA Women's Final Four Party
May 31Senator Edward Kennedy Book Release Event
June 15Microsoft Tech Ed Conference Party
June 19Father's Day Walk
July 7-8Dave Matthews Band and Sheryl Crow Concerts
July 12Hot Stove, Cool Music Fenway Sessions Concert
August 13Picnic in the Park
December 9Christmas at Fenway

Fenway Park In 2008 (Credit: Boston Red Sox)