In a pageant that had the sellout crowd cheering throughout, the Red Sox celebrated the 100th anniversary of the first game at Fenway Park in 1912 by bringing 213 players out onto the field to take their positions.
Hall of Fame left fielder Jim Rice was first, taking his place in front of the Green Monster. Another Hall of Famer, Carl Yastrzemski, was last. Carlton Fisk, Pedro Martinez, Jim Lonborg, Nomar Garciaparra, Reggie Smith, Luis Tiant, Bill Lee, Rico Petrocelli, Mike Lowell and Dennis Eckersley were among those on hand.
At the end, 92-year-old Johnny Pesky and 93-year-old Bobby Doerr were introduced to the crowd. In wheelchairs, they were pushed to their respective positions on either side of second base by Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield. David Ortiz accompanied them.
Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona received the loudest cheers, getting a standing ovation from the crowd and chants of “Tito, Tito.” Francona initially declined to attend the event, then said he would earlier this week believing he owed it to the fans.
The Boston Pops, conducted by John Williams and Keith Lockhart, performed “Fanfare for Fenway” and the national anthem before a flyover by vintage planes.
Martinez and Kevin Millar led a toast to Fenway Park that the entire crowd participated in.
Boston Mayor John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald threw out the first pitch at Fenway Park in 1912. Two of his great-grandchildren, Caroline Kennedy and Thomas Fitzgerald, threw out first pitches along with the current mayor, Thomas Menino.
As befitting the style in 1912, the pitches were thrown from the stands. Fisk, Rice and Yastrzemski caught them.
Here are the updates as they happened:
Good afternoon from Fenway Park and the 100th anniversary of the first game here in 1912.
We’ll have updates throughout the ceremony, which is expected to take about 50 minutes or so.
2:19 p.m.: Bobby Doerr and Johnny Pesky are here, seated near the dugout. Now Jim Rice and Dwight Evans are in the outfield and Bill Buckner is at first base.
2:22 p.m.: The players are entering the field from all different points. Frank Malzone, Luis Tiant, Bruce Hurst, Oil Can Boyd and more. They’re taking their positions on the field. Jerry Remy, Pudge Fisk. This is really neat to see.
2:24 p.m.: Dick Drago, Bob Montgomery, Al Nipper, Dave Stapleton, Gentleman Jim Lonborg. Joe Sambito. Greats, near greats and never were greats. What a cast. Sam Horn. Dave Henderson.
2:26 p.m.: Huge cheer for the great Pedro Martinez. The theme music to the “The Natural is playing. In all, 200 or so players are here.
2:28 p.m.: Izzy Alcantara is here, remember him? Lou Merloni comes out right before his pal, Nomar Garciaparra. Big ovation for No. 5. What a great player.
2:30 p.m.: There are players in wheelchairs. Others who retired just this year like Mike Cameron. Eddie Jurak, Connecticut’s own Roger LaFrancois. Mark Clear. Al Bumbry. Jose Canseco gets hooted a bit by the fans.
2:32 p.m.: Kevin Millar, the fans love him. Huge, huge cheers and a standing ovation for Terry Francona. “Tito, Tito,” they’re chanting.
2:34 p.m.: Mike Timlin and Mike Lowell get big cheers. Lots of nondescript guys like Wilton Veras and Scott Schoeneweis are here, too. Great that Pumpsie Green, the first African-American player in franchise history, came back.
2:36 p.m.: Spaceman Bill Lee wasn’t going to miss this. The Eck is here. Wish my late grandfather could have seen this. Many of these guys were of his generation like Russ Kemmerer or Don Gile. Hey, it’s Mo Vaughn. Now comes Gary Bell and Lee Stange.
2:38 p.m.: Last and never least is Carl Michael Yastrzemski, the greatest living Red Sox player. Now the current guys are taking their positions, too.
2:39 p.m.: Tell you what, pretty special to see Yaz hug Jim Rice in left field. What a shame Ted Williams has passed.
Now comes Bobby Doer and Johny Pesky in wheelchairs accompanied by Wake and Tek. Bet there are some tears flowing in the stands.
Doerr and Pesky are on their respective sides of second base with Wake, Tek and David Ortiz behind them. Hope somebody gets that photo.
2:45 p.m.: John Williams is conducting the Boston Pops in “Fanfare For Fenway” as the players all gather around second base. Cool to see generations from Red Sox players, from 1937 to 2012, all gathered together.
2:52 p.m.: The anthem, conducted by Keith Lockhart, was accompanied by a fly-over of vintage planes. The players are now going back through the center field garage door. Yaz, Fisk and Pedro are still near the dugout along with Doerr and Pesky.
Neat to see Wake and Tek taking care of Mr. Pesky and Mr. Doerr. Now the current players on both teams are lining up on the field. The Athens and Sparta of sports. The great rivals. Fitting that they’re playing today. That had to be the first thing done on the schedule, right?
2:55 p.m.: The ceremony is over. How it could have been better, I’m not sure. If you’re a fan of baseball, you had to enjoy that.
Among those not here: Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Mike Greenwell, Curt Schilling, Dave Roberts, Manny Ramirez, Bob Stanley, Ellis Burks, Grady Little, Don Zimmer.
3:00 p.m.: Mayor Menino, Caroline Kennedy and Thomas Fitzgerald threw out first pitches from the stands to Rice, Fisk and Yaz.
Caroline Kennedy is the great-granddaughter of the man who threw the first pitch in 1912, John “Honey Fitz’’ Fitzgerald.
3:01 p.m.: Pedro and Millar are leading the toast to Fenway. Millar knows a bit about toasts, eh? No JD this time, however. Petey looks like he’s having a great time. He’s addressing the crowd from atop the dugout.
3:05 p.m.: That appears to be it. Now they’ll play a baseball game.