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Old-timers fete oldest of ballparks on 100th b-day
Among the bigger cheers was the chant of “Tito!” that greeted Terry Francona, the manager of the ‘04 and ‘07 champions who was let go after the team’s unprecedented collapse last September. Francona, who was angered by a newspaper article revealing details about personal troubles during the 2011 season, said he would not attend but then relented.
They were all joined on the field by the current players, who were wearing replica uniforms matching the 1912 style, including all white caps. The Yankees also wore throwbacks; it’s believed to be the first time in franchise history they have deigned to do so.
“I loved them. Cool,” said Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez, who hit his 631st career homer to move into fifth on baseball’s all-time list and lead New York to a 6-2 victory on Friday. “We can’t keep `em, though.”
Williams, the composer, led members of the Boston Pops in the debut of his “Fanfare for Fenway”; Pops conductor Keith Lockhart took over for “The Star Spangled-Banner.” There was an Air Force flyover with planes from World War II, when Fenway was already middle-aged.
The ceremonial first pitch was handled by Kennedy _ that’s Caroline, not Kevin _ whose father was President John F. Kennedy and great-grandfather was Boston Mayor John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald when Fenway opened. (She was also the inspiration of the Neil Diamond song “Sweet Caroline,” which is warbled by Fenway fans every eighth inning.)
Current mayor Tom Menino also threw a ceremonial first pitch, along with Thomas Fitzgerald, a grandson of the Boston mayor.
The ceremony ended with a grape juice toast led from atop the Boston dugout by Kevin Millar and Pedro Martinez, perhaps the two biggest personalities of the 2004 champions. Millar said they were given a script but, to no one’s surprise, they quickly abandoned it.
Martinez left for the New York Mets after the ‘04 season, a little more than a month after the cathartic parade in which an estimated 3 million to 4 million fans came out to celebrate the first World Series championship in 86 years. Like Garciaparra, Francona, Fisk, Vaughn and even Buckner, who was long blamed for the team’s 1986 World Series collapse, Martinez left on poor terms but, now, is warmly welcomed back.
“I felt like I’m still in that parade,” Martinez said. “Every time when I come back to Boston, it’s always like a parade for me.”
Follow Jimmy Golen on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jgolen
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