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Old-timers fete oldest of ballparks on 100th birthday

Carl Yastrzemski waves to fans as fellow former Red Sox stars Jim Rice, left, and Bernie Carbo look on at Fenway. (Associated Press)
Carl Yastrzemski waves to fans as fellow former Red Sox stars Jim Rice, left, and Bernie Carbo look on at Fenway. (Associated Press)

More than 200 former Boston Red Sox players and coaches returned to the major league’s oldest ballpark Friday to help the team celebrate Fenway Park’s 100th birthday.

Walking onto the field to the theme from “Field of Dreams” and the cheers of the ballpark’s 719th consecutive sellout crowd, players from Don Aase to Bob Zupcic gathered at their positions and then watched as Caroline Kennedy took part in a ceremonial first pitch 100 years after her great- grandfather did the same.

The Red Sox won the opener on April 20, 1912, 7-6 in 11 innings over the New York Highlanders (who would soon change their name to the Yankees). Boston went on to win the ’12 World Series and three more in that decade, but then embarked on an 86-year title drought in which the ballpark became the franchise’s biggest star.

“This ballpark has created as many memories for people in this area and around the world as any venue in the world,” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said before the ceremony. “The park here has at least a life of its own. A magic to it. It’s the baseball land of Oz. People dream about this place.”

All living Red Sox players and coaches were invited back, giving the fans one more chance to cheer for Hall of Famers such as Carlton Fisk and Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice and Dennis Eckersley.

After taking their positions, they all circled around the oldest of the old-timers, Johnny Pesky and Bobby Doerr, who were pushed out to second base in wheelchairs by recently retired Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield.

A-Rod passes Griffey

New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez moved ahead of Ken Griffey Jr. into sole possession of fifth place with his 631st career homer.

Rodriguez connected on the first pitch of the fifth inning against Boston’s Clay Buchholz.

Rodriguez’s second homer of the season, over the left-field wall, left him 29 shy of Willie Mays’ fourth-place total of 660.

Around the league

Los Angeles Dodgers minor league pitcher Angel Guzman has been suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball for a second violation under the minor league drug program for a drug of abuse. … … Cook County prosecutors said they will not file sexual assault chages against Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro. Chicago police said in January that they were investigating an allegation of sexual assault against Castro.

Tags: baseball