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Valentine: Fenway Park is 'baseball land of Oz'

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  April 20, 2012 12:26 PM

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Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine has collected World Series programs for years and has a keen sense of baseball history. For him, being part of the celebration at Fenway Park is something special.

"I would say that this ballpark has created as many memories for people in this area and around the world as any venue in the world," he said. "Today, I think there will be a memory created for me and everybody else who's here today and I'm looking forward to it."

Growing up in Connecticut, Valentine had Little League and high school teammates who were big Red Sox fans and they talked of Fenway often, as did his Uncle John.

"It was always in the conversation," he said.

Valentine has been thrilled to see some of the former players around the park the last few days, joking that they recognized him before he did them.

"I saw 50 guys yesterday I haven't seen in umpteen years," Valentine said. "I'll see another 100 or so this afternoon. I think that's amazingly special ... There are some guys I didn't recognize and we played together. They have a little advantage on me because they've been in the post office lately and seen the Most Wanted photo of me. It's a little easier for them."

Valentine was impressed that 54,000 fans toured Fenway on Thursday during the team's open house. He said 20 of his friends were in the crowd.

"I was amazed," he said. "There's probably a better word to describe what it was. The park has at least a life. It has a magic to it. It's the baseball land of Oz. People dream about this place."

Mike Aviles was one of the players who spent time signing autographs and posing for photos on Thursday.

"I can't lie, that was a special thing," he said. "To have that many people come to just walk around the park was great to see. It was a madhouse."

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