By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11)
Harvard University and Yale University are set to renew their historic football rivalry later this fall at historic Fenway Park as the 135th playing of “The Game” is scheduled for Saturday, November 17th.
Both teams meet in the final week of the regular season annually, but this year’s game will mark the first time “The Game” will be played on the same playing surface as the Boston Red Sox.
“This year, it is our distinct privilege to host what is arguably one of the most celebrated rivalries and marry one of college football’s most classic games with one of America’s most classic venues,” said Fenway Sports Management Managing Director Mark Lev.
Harvard is no stranger to Fenway Park – in fact, the baseball team was the first athletic program to compete at the historic ballpark 106 years ago when the Crimson faced the Red Sox on a rainy-snowy day. The game marked the first-ever contest at Fenway Park.
Additionally, Harvard’s George “Iron” Davis, who pitched for the Boston Braves, was the first-ever ballplayer to toss a no-hitter at Fenway Park on September 9, 1914. Six years later, the Crimson baseball team beat the Bulldogs at the park by a score of 6-3, thanks to pitcher Babe Felton, who quarterbacked the Harvard football team earlier in the school year.
Yale currently leads the all-time football series (67-59-8), but has tied the Crimson eight times over the past 134 years, including in 1968 when Harvard rallied to even the score at 29-29. Those eight ties, according to Harvard Athletic Director Bob Scalise, are considered wins around the Cambridge campus.
“We think (this game at Fenway Park) will be a terrific experience for our student-athletes and fans,” said Scalise.
“We hope that this rendition of ‘The Game’ will be an instant classic to add to the rivalry and rich tradition,” he added.
This year’s contest certainly has a special meaning to Harvard coach Tim Murphy, who grew up in Kingston, Massachusetts and idolized Rico Petrocelli, who played shortstop for the Red Sox for 13 seasons.
“It’s such an iconic place whether we come here for Red Sox games or concerts it’s always an amazing experience,” said Murphy. “I think it is going to be a great event for any of the alumni fans or players who were involved (with this rivalry).”
Added Harvard captain Zach Miller, “To be able to (have the game played) here (is) awesome, it’s so amazing for us.”
Miller said he and his team had a chance to watch Brown University and Dartmouth College compete at Fenway Park last season under the lights on a chilly Friday evening in November. Harvard-Yale will most likely be an afternoon game, however, the start time of this year’s game has yet to be announced.
“It was very cool (seeing Brown-Dartmouth) on tv and just knowing we were going to be playing there next year was very cool,” said Miller, who was elected the program’s 145th captain. “Just the opportunity to be at Fenway, this historical park, our team – it’s huge for Harvard football, Yale football and this rivalry. It means a lot to us.”
Similar to Miller, Yale captain Kyle Mullen is also excited about competing this fall at Fenway Park. “I’m really excited for the game,” said Mullen, who hails from New Jersey and roots for the New York Mets, not the Red Sox.
Yale captured last year’s meeting, defeating Harvard, 24-3, in New Haven, Connecticut. Mullen, who plays defensive end for the Bulldogs, recorded a trio of solo stops in the win, including a pair of tackles for a loss of six yards.
The senior captain of the Bulldogs said he was looking forward to beating the Crimson at Harvard Stadium this fall, but said Fenway Park works for him as well.
“I was looking forward to beating Harvard at their home stadium, but I guess I will have to settle for this,” he said with a big smile.
Both Harvard and Yale will begin their respective seasons on Saturday, September 15th with the Crimson hosting San Diego and Bulldogs visiting Holy Cross.