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Fenway celebrates its 'Field of Dreams'

Former and present members of the Boston Red

Former and present members of the Boston Red Sox stand on the field during the 100 Years of Fenway Park celebration. (April 20, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

BOSTON -- Fenway Park opened on April 9, 1912, which Yankees fans like to say was the same day the Titanic sunk.

That's not really true. The Titanic went down six days later.

Either way, Bostonians consider April 20, 1912, the official start of Fenway's history. It was the day of the first big-league game there, a 7-6, 11-inning Red Sox win over the New York Highlanders, who later became the Yankees. The April 9 event was a Red Sox-Harvard exhibition game.

The Red Sox honored Fenway Park's 100th anniversary Friday with a lengthy ceremony before their 6-2 loss to the Yankees. The team invited back every living former player, manager and coach who could be located, and many big names showed up -- though some didn't.

Hall of Famer Jim Rice opened the "Field of Dreams"-ish ceremony by appearing from an opening in foul territory in leftfield and walking to his old position in front of the Green Monster.

He was followed by more than 200 former Red Sox uniformed personnel, from Don Aase to Bob Zupcic. They appeared ghostlike from under the stands in left, center or right and went to their old positions on the field as oddly somber music played.

Among those on hand were the Beloved (Pedro Martinez), the Forgiven (Bill Buckner), the Revered (Carl Yastrzemski), the Notorious (Jose Canseco) and the Very Much Appreciated (Terry Francona).

Francona, who won two World Series with the Sox before losing his job after last September's ugly collapse, received the loudest cheers and a standing ovation when he popped out of the centerfield tunnel.

Boston's current manager, Bobby Valentine, is hardly as popular after the team's 4-9 start. Valentine joked that there is "a most wanted photo of me" in Boston-area post offices.

Valentine called the whole day "amazingly special" and added: "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 . . . It has a magic to it. It's the baseball land of Oz. People dream about this place.''

Among the Red Sox luminaries who did not attend were Curt Schilling, Wade Boggs, Fred Lynn, Manny Ramirez and Roger Clemens, who is standing trial in Washington for perjury.

The ceremony also included, for some reason, a grape juice toast led by Martinez and Kevin Millar in an attempt to set a world record for the largest toast in a single venue.

Martinez and Millar, of course, were stars on the curse-busting 2004 world championship team as the Red Sox earned their first title since 1918.

"It's unbelievable," Martinez said later. "When you see the amount of players that we have here, how special it makes you feel to have been part of anything in Boston. To see a group of players and be able to say, 'I was part of that and continue to be part of that,' it makes you really feel special."

Moments before Martinez spoke, Derek Jeter led off the game wearing the uniform of the 1912 Highlanders. He hit a pop-up to short rightfield.

Dustin Pedroia, blinded by the sun, dropped it.

That was how the second century of Fenway Park began.

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