Fenway face-lift proves hit for college football

Fenway face-lift proves hit for college football

BOSTON -- Fenway Park may be synonymous with the Red Sox, but on Saturday, it was all about college football.

After weeks of work, Fenway transformed from a baseball park into a football field for the Shamrock Series between Boston College and Notre Dame. By the end of the night, the fourth-ranked Irish came away with a tight 19-16 victory.

The playing field went from the third-base line to the edge of the right-field wall. The manual scoreboard, usually full of scores from the day's Major League Baseball games, showed the results of other college football contests. The Shamrock Series logo dotted the Green Monster, with a "We Are ND" sign right above the Green Monster seats.

Notre Dame prevails at Fenway Park

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, a native of Chelsea, Mass., made sure to soak in the atmosphere before the game.

"I came out a little bit earlier than I normally do just to take a look around and see all of the people," Kelly said. "It really felt like a football stadium. It didn't feel like you were squeezed in or shortened."

Fans also made sure to take in their surroundings, filling up the bars and restaurants around Fenway in the early afternoon and lining up hours before the gates opened at 5:30 p.m. ET.

Considered a home game for Notre Dame, the majority of the fans were rooting for the Irish, with small chunks of Eagles fans scattered throughout the park.

Fenway hosts football game

Matt Mooney and his 9-year-old son, Tristan, made the trek from Burlington, Conn. It marked Tristan's first football game.

"Watching his expression made my year. He was in awe," Matt said of his son. "You could play in Australia and we'd come. You could play in Alaska."

One of the biggest Notre Dame fans at Fenway was recently retired MLB player Torii Hunter, who cheered on his son, wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr.

No stranger to the atmosphere of Fenway Park, Hunter played 63 games at the historic field during his 19-year career.

"This is Fenway. A lot of great ballplayers came here. I told my son just to enjoy it," Hunter said. "Not many people have a chance to set foot onto this field."

Notre Dame senior linebacker Joe Schmidt, a Red Sox fan who grew up in Orange, Calif., couldn't believe he was walking through the same clubhouse as famous Red Sox players.

"Absolutely dream-like. It was so fun to play in this atmosphere. You really have to lock in during the game, but before and after, it's crazy to be here," Schmidt said. "It's a special experience, and it's why you come to Notre Dame -- for experiences like this. It's a blessing, it really is."

Papi gives locker to Torii Hunter Jr.

The unusual layout and dimensions of Fenway created a few predicaments for both teams. Boston College players changed into their uniforms just a few miles away at their campus, while Notre Dame players squeezed into the Red Sox's clubhouse. Notre Dame's band sat behind the team's bench, while Boston's College's band was tucked in a corner down the third-base line.

The hardest part for both teams proved to be standing on the same sideline.

"The challenge was when the team was all the way down the other end in terms of communication and getting guys in and out of the game," Kelly said. "It is a little bit of making sure your signals aren't compromised."

As the final score was displayed on the video boards and the teams met at midfield to shake hands, fireworks went off in the background, signifying the end of an exciting and eventful night.

"I think they should play more games here," Kelly said with a smile.

Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.