The streak began in May of 2003. That year was a turning point in the history, and the fortunes, of the storied Olde Towne Team.. Red Sox fans obviously knew they were on to something -- a hot, competitive team -- when they launched a streak of 456 consecutive sellouts at Fenway Park, en route to a new MLB record.
That year, the Red Sox won 95 games for the first time since 1986 -- the last time they'd won the A.L. Pennant. Since 2003, they've never won fewer than 95 games. And in that frame, the Red Sox have, of course, won two World Series titles.
Red Sox fans were there to see all of the highlights in every game at Fenway along the way: a historic comeback against, and eventual defeat of, the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS; David Ortiz set the Red Sox single-season home run record; Dustin Pedroia win the AL Rookie of the Year Award; Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz pitch no-hitters before their 25th birthdays, and on and on.
It took Red Sox' fans the better part of six seasons to break the mark previously set by Cleveland Indians' fans between 1995-2001, a seven-season span. Sox fans were clearly rewarded for their patronage and passionate commitment. And the Red Sox organization was also rewarded -- both financially, and with the tremendous energy that results from a Fenway sellout.
The historic park is the not only baseball's oldest, but also it's smallest. With a fan-base that expects a competitive team each season, and a resulting payroll among the highest in baseball, that has resulted in the game's highest ticket prices.It makes the streak all the more impressive. But those high prices have resulted in rewards for attending fans; a consistently great team and the intimacy of Fenway.
Boston sports fans are among the most passionate and most committed in America. In fact, two of the top-six longest sellout streaks were set in Boston. Here's a look:
Pro Sports Longest Sellout Streaks
Number Team Years
744 Portland (NBA) 1977-1995
567 Boston (NBA) 1980-1995
515 Chicago (NBA) 1987-2000
456 Boston (MLB) 2003-2008
455 Cleveland (MLB) 1995-2001
407 Colorado (NHL) 1995-2006
The Red Sox amazing streak shows no sign of letting up and, with a likely playoff run this fall, should extend through next season and beyond. At about the midway point next year, the streak should surpass that of the Chicago Bulls. And early in the 2010 season, it should also hurtle past the Celtics mark, set over a 16-year period in the '80s and '90s.
Could the Portland Trailblazers' mark be broken by the Red Sox and their fans? It's entirely possible. That could happen during the 2012 season, the same year that the club will be celebrating its 100th anniversary at the legendary Fenway Park. Interest in the team, and the park, will likely be at an even more fevered pitch at that point, if that's even possible.
It makes you wonder how much more intense it can get? After all, there are only so many seats, and the team can only sell each of them once per game.
For some fans, who've never had the pleasure of attending Fenway, it's not enough.
Copyright © 2008 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.