10/23/2004 10:17 PM ET
Party time in Beantown
Fenway enjoys first World Series game since 1986
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
|Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler sings the national anthem before Game 1 of the World Series on Saturday night at Fenway Park. (Elsa/Getty Images)
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BOSTON -- The party around Fenway Park began hours before the actual 8:03 p.m. ET first pitch of Game 1 of the World Series. Fans packed the streets surrounding the historic ballpark, some waiting for Red Sox players to arrive, some looking for tickets, some just soaking in the atmosphere -- and a couple of hot dogs -- as Red Sox Nation prepared for its first Fall Classic in 18 years.
By the time the pregame ceremonies began, a bundled up and enthusistic crowd of Boston fans were treated to a typical feast of pomp and circumstance that always accompanies a World Series game. Couple that with the storied and rich history of the Red Sox franchise and Bostonians were in baseball high heaven.
The night began with local band Dropkick Murphys singing "Tessie," a reincarnation of the old Broadway hit that has become the rallying cry of Red Sox Nation as the team seeks to end an 85-year World Series championship drought.
When it was time to introduce the teams, the Cardinals' non-starters and support staff walked onto the field together unannounced, but the Red Sox staff -- everyone from the traveling secretary to the bat boys to the clubhouse managers -- was introduced. When the Series shifts to St. Louis on Tuesday, the reverse will take place, and the full Cardinals staff will be recognized.
Johnny Pesky, whose Red Sox credentials include playing, coaching, managing, broadcasting, and now, at the age of 85, serving as a special assignment instructor, received an ovation as loud as any current player in the Red Sox's Game 1 starting lineup.
Following the presentation of the colors by the Air Force Junior ROTC from Lowell High School in Lowell, Mass., the public address announcer asked for a moment of silence for Victoria Snelgrove, the 21-year-old East Bridgewater native and Emerson College student who was killed during the celebration around Fenway Park after the Red Sox clinched the AL pennant on Wednesday.
The mood was dramatically lifted when Steven Tyler, whose legendary band, Aerosmith, got its start in Boston in 1970, emerged to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner." Tyler belted it out in typical rock-star fashion. He even included some of his signature shrieks, but without taking anything away from the sanctity of the anthem.
The ceremonial first pitch was thrown by Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, one of the most beloved figures in the rich history of the Red Sox. "Yaz" won Major League Baseball's last Triple Crown, in 1967, when the Red Sox lost to the Cardinals in seven games in the World Series.
Yastrzemski emerged from left field, because that was where he played for most of his 23-year Red Sox career that spanned from 1961-83. More flashbulbs went off for that moment than for the actual first pitch thrown by Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield when Game 1 officially began.
One person surely taking pictures was famed Red Sox fan Ben Affleck, who was spotted sitting near the home dugout with fellow actor Jennifer Garner of "Alias."
The final order of pregame business was taken care of by the four F-16 jets from the Vermont Air National Guard located in Burlington that flew over Fenway Park to officially commemorate the beginning of the 100th World Series in Major League history.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.