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“Think right when we won the world series. There were ideas that came forth about about what you might do opening day on a magical day at fenway park. When sky was as blue as the grass was green a symphony of sound and motion took baseball s center stage. As heroes past and present celebrated a red sox championship with the faithful for the first time since 1990 from planning.
It is easy for james taylor then on that side to pulling it off. We go behind the scenes of an opening day for the ages on this edition of red sox stories. I started rehearsing this as you can picture. The comical scene of me doing this julie played outside in an empty city of palms park doing it myself walking out from the dugout going to second base waving running back to the dugout and then being i was being johnny damon that will go down as the first of many rehearsals for the most important opening day at fenway park in 86 years having returned to boston from fort myers in late march.
Red sox. Executive vice president for public affairs. Dr. Charles steinberg.
Had the daunting task of preparing a ceremony. Fitting for not only the champions. But for fans who had waited nearly a century for this the first issue is what time this all starts. The point was to provide an array of elements that had the potential to tip over the buckets full of emotion that fans already had coming into the ballpark.
It would take hundreds of volunteers members of the world renowned boston symphony orchestra and all of the teams departments to get the job done a few life long sox fans would be in the center of the storm socks director of fan and neighborhood services. Sarah mckenna. Who grew up in springfield massachusetts. Would coordinate the movements of hundreds of people on the field as well as flags and banners.
Pam ganley was raised in burlington mass now the team s coordinator of alumni and archives. She had invited and would organize the former players it was a lot of finding out their sizes for the uniforms and trying to figure out where they re gonna park and you know their how many people gonna come with them and figure out their schedules and then from that point on once we figured out some logistics. We just had to try to schedule some people to meet them bring them in we got the uniforms ordered from a company that does old fashioned uniforms sox manager of scoreboard and video production danny kachelle would oversee and direct all audio and video needs a bit of pressure for a guy who grew up in sharon early on it was determined that the ceremony would begin with the unveiling of a huge world champions flag that would drop and cover the green monster. A flag so big thirty six and a half feet high and 200 feet long that it had to be sown at a local boys and girls club.
Tom werner said. Wait a minute don t just do that have a 1903 banner. Then the 1912 banner than the 1915 and as he was saying it we were getting the chills with eager anticipation of hallelujah and then we were imagining what music goes to it and it was the boston symphony itself kim taylor from there who suggested strauss s also sprach zarathustra. Which many people know is the theme from 2001.
And she came around one night and said try this it s perfect and we were so excited the first rehearsal at fenway was april 1st right now you re required to wait 30 seconds in the guy walk that s what i want i ll imitate for the players to walk from the dugout to home plate to receive their rings took too long so the walk was shortened. They d go from the dugout to first base. I feel like they re more a part of the ceremony..
Even the people up at the green monster. I feel like you can relate to them better after rehearsal inside the championship flag that will fly above fenway park was delivered and unveiled for the first time weapon up in this city. He goes from sea to shining sea and say you echo that every note of music to accompany the ceremony. Had a reason in a meeting with kim taylor and dennis alps from the boston symphony orchestra.
The score was settled we were emphatic that we wanted the impossible dream and i thought that if ever. There is a piece of music that is regarded perhaps as the boston pops greatest hits greats hit it might be the 1812 overture. We knew the story of course of the impossible dream from 67. But also take 1975 when organist john kiley spontaneously played hallelujah when carlton fisk hit the foul pole with the game six homerun so we went with hallelujah right before at the 1812 overture.
We all know that that sweet caroline is an anthem at fenway park and and we had sought out neil diamond to sing live. Which we thought would be a great surprise. But he he wasn t available and in a tribute to the legendary composer and conductor and red sox fan john williams. Who also wanted to be here how we played some of his music that also applies to red sox or you might say red sox.
The yankees. So you heard star wars and that was just the score for the ring ceremony. There were musical surprises to come when james taylor heard america the beautiful would be played as wounded american soldiers marched in with the rings. He volunteered working on his own rendition of the song and baseball balladeer.
Terry cashman known best for his song talk and baseball had written a tune about raising the flag perfectly fitting for this opening day april 4th. The giant banner that would surprise fans opening day was delivered that meant april 5th was the first chance to rehearse the banner drops red sox ambassador marty rey was to give the cue stop it drop it stop it drop it gobert drop it drop. It there were issues with wind problems that would be solved by adding sand to be sewn into pockets at the bottom of the banners and there were problems with the championship flag fenway s flagpole already flying the american flag wasn t made to fly two flags that was no problem for acrobatic flag coordinator john coyne he just shouldn t ease up but i can t even imagine what kind of physical strength that mean has and he just climbs up there and got the duel. You know totally reworked how that system works and got it working the flagpole was working.
But the ceremony still needed work i d like to know by a new news. I mean at some point. I do need to get ready to go five days before opening day. There were many details still to work out such as who would throw the ceremonial first pitch bobby orr.
Who had to decline after he accepted because he had a golf tournament in florida. The same day. But he was able to rearrange things and make it work the goal of the first pitch was to provide an array of champions from boston sports history and no player has won more championships than bill russell s 11. He agreed to return to fenway.
But only after learning about the sox efforts in the community at a breakfast with tom werner. The morning of opening day. We agreed this isn t about throwing out a first pitch today this is about going forward with a relationship..
But it took that to give him the warm embrace that he needed to feel to come back to fenway park. After having not been here for 40 years. The patriots champs in three of the last four seasons were represented by number 93 richard seymour and inspiring linebacker tedy bruschi who before the ceremony decided to wear one of terry francona s jerseys to hunter. The sox and their manager as the first pitch was coming together so too were the red sox championship rings made by jostens in denton texas.
Just six days after winning the world series a committee headed by sox principal owner john henry met for the first time to discuss the design of the world championship rings. Red sox have never had a ring in 1918. They weren t making world series rings so i knew in addition to the 86 years that the fact that it was going to be the the first was made it a pretty cool. Tim wakefield was central to those meetings jack mccormick was there we invited more players.
But i think tim was essentially their their representative and and i think without tim. We would have had less bling well the first thing you do when you re when you re producing the ring is as you create what we call in our industry. A tool. The tooling of the ring and what it is it s it s a reverse of what the ring actually is and then from that tool you you create waxes you need pour wax of how that ring will then appear and when we create the waxes that s when every individual ring.
You know with every individual players name their number and all those personal elements that would change from one ring to the next once that tool is made and the wax is poured then you start to fill that area with the gold and so once the the actual foundation of the ring is poured. Then you set the stones and into into the ring. And you know it s a it s a complex process. Because of some unique characteristics about this ring and especially the b that sets on top of the ring.
You know how the the rubies are set that that s a very unique setting and and had to be done separate from the ring. And then obviously. It was placed on top of the ring. When when the ring itself was was finished because of their attention to detail and getting this exactly where they wanted you know we really had to perform at the very highest level to produce this ring.
I have two championship rings from triple a. I have four from from being a partner in another team. But this one is is beyond. What i had ever imagined when i first thought about getting involved just days before opening day.
There was still so much to do there was a gaping hole on lansdowne street billboards to take down and put up foul poles were painted fresh concrete was poured outside the ticket office. Finishing touches were still happening in the new weight room locker name plates were in a pile. But the special jerseys with gold trim numbers created to wear on opening day. Only were hung neatly ready to go it was larry lukey.
Know who said let s have the soldiers whom we met at walter reed army medical center fly up and come out from under the flag bearing the rings. So those soldiers were there for the final rehearsal. But the rings hadn t been delivered so cd cases were used every ring would have its place on the custom made table will this saran wrap be on damar you can t get just do normal banquet table that you would put out there..
Because then you know your owners are bending over to pick it up and you just want it to be a very natural reaction. So you have it to a special height everything went well that final rehearsal. Except it s decided for the sanity of fans and the safety of sox alumni who would be hidden just feet away beneath the flag to eliminate the canon there were other worries on the eve of opening day. The centerpiece of the ceremony soundtrack had yet to rehearse at fenway the thing that scares me and you know we ll see how it is is the fact that we won t have the orchestra here we won t know what it will sound like until tomorrow.
Morning. Around 6 30. On opening day eve. A surprise addition to the opening day lineup was announced in a phone call from the san diego padres.
We re putting dave roberts on the plane he changed his mind he s taking a red eye. So we were thrilled because that was as last minute as it comes he arrived about 7 30. In the morning on opening day. Around 8 30.
That night. The team arrived from toronto and entered the refurbished fenway clubhouse for the first time home at last and ready to celebrate you wanted this to be the the fulfillment of their dream. So for tim wakefield. You had waited for this for 10 years as a member of the red sox.
But you would also waited for it your whole life at 6 30. Opening day morning. The champion s rings were delivered. They were secured in a room beneath the third base stands and for the first time since fenway park opened way back in 1912.
A red sox championship ring was home by nine thirty members of the boston symphony orchestra rehearsed on the field for the first time it went much better than i expected first of all we heard it when they for when they for when they first played we heard them we didn t hear any echo and they didn t get thrown off by the delay. So it was a great outside yaqui way filled with the charm and color scene. Only at a baseball game in boston. The gates opened at noon inside the ceremonies.
Mcs don orsillo and joe castiglione were going over the details of the script with dr. Steinberg. So you re there james taylor comes to see you there terry cashman comes to see you though there were some last minute jitters. The 28 alumni hadn t been to a single rehearsal.
You can t really tell exactly what s gonna happen when it s fresh faces on the day of the game. And there were countless technical aspects that could falter. I mean we have a lot of new equipment in here and stuff like that if it goes wrong..
Then we will have let millions of people down. And there s a there s a lot of weight to that because i know those people. I am one of those people. It was nearly time for the day eighty six years in the making.
This is the biggest opening day in history. The franchise over here. It s gonna be amazing my day on opening day started at about 10 00 am on sunday. I got here for the last rehearsal and i didn t leave until after the game.
All right guys. I m sitting there on the chatter talk only when needed from this point on only when needed from this point on one thing you learn over the years of doing ceremonies is that you have to realize that s not gonna go. According to plan all the time in the dugout before things got going 92 year old former sox pitcher charlie wagner. The guy who opens each season at fenway with the honor of saying let s play ball was moved to be part of it all it s just special everyday every time.
I walked on the field. I fed i feel special after more than eight decades. Multiple planning meetings and five full rehearsals. It was time to start the party so enjoy yourself immensely relax have fun and get everything right there every car god shed his grace on me.
I m hard. I go with brother from sea to shining sea from c2. Raise high curses over the babe don t live here anymore. And it ballgame and this is for barbra door.
They wanted to be evans. They wanted it s all missy. There is only one way for a perfect day at fenway to end. And that is with a win over the yankees this was indeed a perfect day.
An opening day in the ages. It s so petty yes. It s oh it s opening. We can all kids.
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