Red Sox's sellout streak ends

BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox customarily announce that game's attendance in the press box, usually in the seventh inning or beyond. For 820 consecutive games, the announced attendance was followed by the words "sellout."

Wednesday night, anticipating the inevitable, the Red Sox issued a news release announcing their record streak of sellouts -- 820 (794 regular-season games and an additional 26 in the postseason) -- was ending.

And sure enough, the official attendance for the 8-5 loss to the Baltimore Orioles was 30,862. The capacity for night games at Fenway Park is 37,493.

Both the regular-season and overall streaks were the longest in major professional sports.

The previous record in Major League Baseball was 455 by the Cleveland Indians from 1995-2001, when they won six consecutive division titles and two American League pennants. The Red Sox surpassed that total on Sept. 8, 2008.

The longest overall streak in major sports was formerly held by the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers at 814 games.

The Red Sox's streak attracted a fair amount of ridicule last season, when there were many nights the ballpark was not full, but the team maintained it had sold enough seats to satisfy the sellout criteria.

According to the Red Sox, the club averaged 36,605 tickets sold per game during the streak. Fenway Park's seating capacity was only 34,807 in 2003 when the streak began.

The Red Sox's statement contained comments from principal owner John W. Henry, chairman Tom Werner and CEO Larry Lucchino, a driving force behind the streak.

"The streak is a reflection of a phenomenal period of baseball in Boston and of America's greatest ballpark," Henry said. "But more than that, it is a testament to the baseball passion of New England fans. As we close the book on this incredible era, we look forward to another with a renewed certainty that the next couple of generations of Red Sox fans will also be enjoying baseball at the ever magical Fenway Park."

Added Werner: "We have all experienced a wonderful combination of compelling baseball, a revitalized ballpark, and an atmosphere of warmth and hospitality. I'd like to thank publicly our players, coaches, managers, our architects, our designers and construction workers, and our front office and day-of-game ballpark staff. Their work, together, connected with Red Sox Nation -- passionate fans who helped take this team and this park to these heights. It is these fans to whom we are most grateful."

Said Lucchino: "We are proud of this historic achievement. Over the past 10 years, more than 30 million, many among the most sophisticated baseball fans in America, have purchased tickets to see games at Fenway Park. Never in that period was there a crowd less than 32,000. No other club in Major League Baseball can make that statement. That speaks volumes about the constancy and dedication of New England baseball fans."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.