I've been to a good number of Red Sox games in my life. I've been to the playoffs, I've seen walk off home runs. I've been down on the field, and gotten my picture taken with players and members of ownership. Kerrigan once got a ball from Okajima, and we later had it signed by Jon Lester. We've been pretty lucky, to say the least. Well, Sunday night topped it all.
Sunday night was Opening Night at Fenway Park, against our bitter, hated rivals, the defending champion New York Yankees. Opening Day comes with lots of fanfare. It's a new beginning. For the team that won the World Series the previous season, it's a chance to defend the title. For everyone else, it's a chance to to start fresh. In a 162 games schedule, this first game doesn't mean everything, but it sure is nice to start the season with a win, especially in front of the home fans. Over the years, many things have become commonplace on Opening Day. The Ceremonial First Pitch is one of those things. Former Red Sox fireballer and Pedro Martinez was on hand Sunday night and got a standing ovation from the Fenway faithful. Another ritual is someone shouting out "Play Ball". Fenway favorite Johnny Pesky had the honor this year, officially kicking off the 2010 season. In addition to the aforementioned moments, this night saw a few other unforgettable memories.
5 year old Joshua Sacco gave the pregame pep talk, his own version of the famous Herb Brooks speech given to the US Olympic Hockey Team in the 1980 games. Fenway Park was going crazy for this kid! I can't stop listening to it, and I can't stop smiling. It was a great start to the game, and everyone in attendance was on their feet.
When you think of rock and roll bands from Boston, who is one of the biggest acts you think of first? Aerosmith, right? Well, God Bless America, a song that is traditionally sung during the 7th inning stretch of all baseball games was sung by none other than Steven Tyler. He may have needed to read the words off the jumbotron above our heads in centerfield, but what a cool moment that was!
If you have been to Fenway Park before, you know about Sweet Caroline, the classic song by Neil Diamond. Well, instead of blasting Neil over the CD player in the announcer's box, they decided to have Neil himself come onto the field and sing it in person! We had heard some rumors that he might be there, but the place went into a frenzy (with the exception of the wasted chick behind us, she was passed out cold!) Simply amazing for any Red Sox fan.
These were just the extra things that Opening Day brings along with it. The game, now that was even better! After getting out to a quick start, the Yankees were up 5-1, before things fell apart for the Evil Empire. Boston mounted not one, but two rallies, capped off by a two run shot over the Green Monster by Dustin Pedroia. The place was going insane. Sitting in the centerfield bleachers for a Yankees game is the only way to go, unless you have your kids, in which case, bad place to be! We must have seen a dozen people escorted out, mostly just for being rowdy or throwing an empty beer cup. There was chanting, the wave, lots of talk back and forth between fans and more excitement than one could ever expect at a regular season game. Like I said, I've been to a lot of games, but this was, hands down, the best game I have ever been to. Willy Belly, we can't thank you enough man, what a great game!