08/01/07 8:53 PM ET
Garnett makes a splash at Fenway
New Celtic throws out ceremonial first pitch on Wednesday
By Alex McPhillips / MLB.com
Early returns say yes, this sports-mad town can support a pair of good-natured, charismatic superstars. When David Ortiz and new Boston Celtic Kevin Garnett embraced in front of the Fenway Park mound, years after Ortiz left Garnett in Minnesota and seconds after Garnett delivered the ceremonial first pitch of Wednesday's game against the Orioles, they wore two of sports' most megawatt smiles.
No city lights shorted out -- at 7 p.m. ET, they weren't yet on -- but the Fenway Park crowd was buzzing when Garnett, wearing a No. 5 Red Sox jersey, loped to the mound, turning and waving to all corners of the stadium. Then Ortiz, crouching behind the plate, caught Garnett's offering, a low fastball in the dirt. The crowd roared.
Before the game, Red Sox manager Terry Francona was asked by reporters if he would be willing to receive the ceremonial first pitch.
"Negative," Francona said. "There's going to be some downward plane and I probably can't get to it."
Still, Francona could hardly contain his excitement about the Celtics, speaking in glowing terms about the team's newest star.
In order of importance, "Gagne is first," he said, noting his own team's recent acquisition. "But not by a lot. This is a big deal."
His was not a figure of speech. The 6-foot-11 Garnett has a wingspan that exceeds seven feet. Standing next to his friend as he left the field, Garnett made Big Papi look small.
Ortiz was asked if he plans to frequent TD Banknorth Garden this fall.
"Heck yeah," said Ortiz, one of many local A-listers who are sure to be spotted under Boston's largest collection of championship banners. "You'll see me out there, boy."
Garnett, for his part, did not leave the ballgame early, as ceremonial first pitchers are apt to do. As of the sixth inning, he was still watching the game with his wife in a private box, wearing his Red Sox jersey and navy cap.
Francona, a friend of Celtics coach Doc Rivers and a devoted basketball fan, could hardly contain his excitement about the deal. He has attended Celtics games in the past.
"And I will continue," Francona said. "I am really excited about this. I'm one of the guys who stays up [when they're] on the West Coast. ... So I will continue. I went five or six times last year."
"I loved it then," he said, "and I'll probably love it more now."
Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.