McGreevy's 3rd Base Saloon

Birthplace of the Boston Red Sox Nation . . . Nuf Ced!

Photo - McGreevys 3rd Base Saloon in Boston's Back Bay near Fenway Park

Boston Red Sox fans will find a lot to love in McGreevy's, a neighborhood bar near Fenway and Boston nightlife favorite.

Why?  For starters, this is the Boston bar where the first Red Sox fan club began. 

Now given new life by local Celtic punk rockers The Dropkick Murphys, McGreevy's also doubles as a Boston Irish pub and a popular Boston sports bar.

Only 88 years after Prohibition shut down every neighborhood bar in America, Michael "Nuf Ced" McGreevy's 3rd Base Saloon opened again to cheers and applause in April, 2008 - just in time for the opening pitch at nearby Fenway. 

If possible, this reincarnated addition to Boston nightlife has even more fans than the original. 

The bar's first incarnation, called the 3rd Base Saloon, has lots of claims to fame . . . the first sports bar in the nation . . . the home of the first Red Sox fan club, the Royal Rooters . . . and even the birthplace of Red Sox Nation. 

Now, in Boston, we take our membership in Red Sox Nation very seriously, so this means that the 3rd Base Saloon has an important place in local as well as Red Sox history.

How did all this happen?

 

McGreevy's Saloon, Royal Rooters, and Red Sox Victories

Back in 1894, baseball fanatic "Nuf Ced" opened his 3rd Base Saloon in Roxbury as a place where ball players, fans, and politicians could hang out, drink, and talk sports. 

Boston Mayor John F. "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald (grandfather of Senator Edward Kennedy and President John F. Kennedy) was a regular and reportedly part of the group of regulars that founded the Royal Rooters Fan Club, dedicated to cheering on everyone's favorite team.

Babe Ruth, Cy Young, and other legendary players also lifted a few pints at the bar and contributed to its decor - pictures, old bats, and other memorabilia.  Soon the pictures plaster the walls and the bats hung from the ceilings as light fixtures. 

In fact, McGreevy's saloon is considered to be the first documented sports-themed bar in the U.S.  It's still a favorite Boston sports bar - and also a favorite Boston-Irish pub.

Red Sox Nation . . . born in a bar

The saloon was also the site of the birth of a nation . . . Red Sox Nation.

To urge the Red Sox (then known as the Boston Americans) to victory for their first World Series win in 1903, the Royal Rooters sang the fighting song, "Tessie," over and over again . . . and they kept singing to urge the Red Sox on to more championship victories in 1912, 1915, 1916, and 1918. 

Then on December 26, 1919, the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth, known as "the bambino," to the Yankees.  According to local legand, the Curse of the Bambino meant that the Red Sox would win no more World Series championships for a long, long time. 

And then in 1920, Prohibition shut down McGreevy's saloon - along with every other bar in the country.  Many of the bar's artifacts were donated to the Boston Public Library.

It was a sad day in Boston history - and that's an understatement.

 

With a little help from "Tessie,"
Red Sox Nation rises again . . .
And so does McGreevy's

Flash forward to 2004.

The Dropkick Murphys, a local Celtic punk music group and huge Red Sox fans, update "Tessie."  They record it in June, perform it at Fenway Park, and proclaim that it will guarantee a World Sox victory. 

The rest is part of history . . . at least, Boston sports history.

Photo of McGreevys part owners Dropkick Murphys and Red Sox Jonathan Papelbon playing air guitar - photo copyright 2006 autisticpsycho2 - provided under Creative Commons License

You can see the story retold in the 2007 movie, “Rooters: The Birth of Red Sox Nation," which also features a replica of the original McGreevys 3rd Base Saloon rebuilt as a movie set.

You could also see history repeat itself when the Sox won another World Series victory in 2007 and Jonathan Papelbon danced a jig to the Dropkick's hit during the celebratory Duckboat parade through Boston. 

In 2008, history came full circle when Dropkick cofounder Ken Casey and film producer / Red Sox fanatic / baseball historian Peter Nash (aka "Prime Minister Pete Nice" from 1980s hip-hop group 3rd Bass) resurrected McGreevys 3rd Base Saloon on Boylston Street across from the Hynes Convention Center. 

Insider Tip - The Dropkick Murphys traditionally give a St Patrick's Day performance at House of Blues Boston - check my Boston Events Calendar for March for details.

 

Why you'll want to root for the Sox at McGreevy's

Located a few blocks - or as the owners say, just 1,200 steps - away from Fenway, home of the Red Sox, the new bar replicates the old.  The new owners have plastered the walls with many items from the old saloon, as well as additional artifacts donated by the Kennedy and Fitzgerald families as well as the Boston Public Library.

Photo of McGreevys Saloon in Boston Back Bay showing Red Sox memorabilia

Among the resulting mixture of baseball and political memorabilia, you can see items such as Honey Fitz's personal letters and scrapbook, a Virgin Mary medallion worn by President Kennedy during the 1946 Congressional campaign, and ballots from the 1884 election of Boston's first Irish mayor, Hugh O'Brien. 

In keeping with the bar's long-time tradition, politicians continue to drop by, as well as occasional Red Sox players.  And of course, the Dropkick Murphys.

You'll also see lots of Red Sox clippings, photos, trophies, and uniforms. The bar even has baseball bats, old and new, hanging from the ceiling as light fixtures, just like in the old days.  If you're a Red Sox fan, you can probably spend almost an hour just looking at the walls.

 

Museum or Boston sports bar?

Remember . . . McGreevy's is a sports bar, not a museum.  If you're a big sports fan, the first things that you may notice are the many flat screens, everywhere you look. 

The bar itself is a pretty typical Boston sports bar.  Perhaps 8 beers are on draft, with more available by the bottle.  A few basic wines can be had by the glass, as well as some specialty drinks. 

The menu - this is where the Irish pub influence begins to emerge - features a couple of Irish favorites along with all the usual bar menu favorites.  An all-day Irish breakfast, shepherd's pie, and traditional Irish Boxty, and corned beef and potato croquettes set the tone. 

You can also order salads, chowder, sandwiches, burgers, and a few entrees, including Guinness beef stew and fish and chips.   A Saturday and Sunday brunch menu features eggs, omelettes, quiche, and pancakes of various sorts.  As at most Boston pubs, prices are fairly reasonable.

While you're there, be sure to raise a glass to Nuf.

Details and Directions

Address:  911 Boylston, Back Bay; Green Line/Hynes
For more information:  617-262-0911; website

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