As you all know Friday marked the 100th anniversary of the first professional baseball game played at Fenway Park between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Highlanders. Roughly 25,000 fans attended that game in 1912 and 100 years later, at Friday’s aanniversary celebration, 36,770 fans commemorated the birthday of America’s most beloved ballpark.
Around 2 p.m., I made my way down toward the field to my position (the camera well on the third-base side, next to the visitors’ dugout) to take in the pregame festivities.
Here are the top five memories I will take away from that very special day.
5. In 1912, the mayor of Boston, John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, threw out the first pitch on Opening Day. Three ceremonial first pitches were thrown out at Friday’s celebration. One was from Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of the former president. The other pitches were thrown by Thomas Fitzgerald, the great-grandson of John Fitzgerald, and Thomas Menino, the mayor of Boston. They threw the pitches from the first row of seats on the first base side (1912 style) to Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice and Carl Yastrzemski.
4. Pedro Martinez and Kevin Millar stood atop of the Red Sox dugout and led the fans in a birthday toast to Fenway. The Fenway Park crew also made sure everyone could take part in the festivities, leaving a can of sparkling grape juice at every seat. Millar saluted the last 100 years, and Martinez toasted the next 100. The toast set a Guinness World Record for the largest toast in a single venue with 32,904 participants. (Note: The previous record for the largest crowd gathered for a toast was in Tokyo for a Yakult Swallows game with 27,126 participants).
3. The Boston Pops, conducted by John Williams and Keith Lockhart, gathered behind home plate and preformed “Fanfare for Fenway,” a musical piece composed for the occasion. The Pops also performed the national anthem before a flyover that included a vintage plane.
2. Current Red Sox and Yankees players were dressed in throwback uniforms dating back to the inaugural game in 1912 at Fenway Park between the Red Sox and the New York Highlanders. (The New York Highlanders were renamed the Yankees in 1913.) I had an opportunity to speak with Red Sox historian Dick Bresciani about the throwback jerseys.
1. As the Boston Pops orchestra played the theme music from the movie Field of Dreams, Hall of Famer Jim Rice was first to appear on the field. He entered from left field to take his place in front of the Green Monster. Next, by the 420-foot mark in of center field emerged Dwight Evans, who walked to his familiar spot in right field. And after Bill Buckner came out, the parade of Red Sox alumni began through the gates to take their positions around the field.
There were loud cheers for Luis Tiant, Carlton Fisk and Dennis Eckersley. The parade of players continued with a big applause for Hall of Fame left fielder Carl Yastrzemski, and the loudest roar of them all for former manager Terry Francona as fans chanted Tito, Tito.”
A touching moment occurred when Johnny Pesky (92) and Bobby Doerr (94) were brought out to second base in wheelchairs by the recently retired Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield. In total, 212 former players, all wearing Red Sox jerseys over black dress pants, participated in the 100th aanniversary celebration.