April 13, 2005


Ceremony had the right ring (Kevin Paul Dupont, April 12, 2005, Boston Globe)

Fans, from Stockbridge to Boston and beyond, were treated to a James Taylor bit of patriotism. As the soft-rock legend began to sing, "O beautiful for spacious skies . . . For amber waves of grain," 19 members of the United States military, Army and Marine soldiers injured in Iraq, made their way across the field, slowly marching in from the Wall to the first base dugout. Two soldiers were in wheelchairs. Two had canes. The majority were from New England.

"A day these guys will never forget," said Worcester-born Mike Amaral, the US Army lieutenant colonel, who escorted the veterans to and from the ballyard. "What a great day for them. Every one of 'em was saying they'd be telling their grandkids about this someday."

Light chants of "USA . . . USA . . . USA" circulated through the crowd as the soliders made their way to the dugout, trading high-fives with the Sox players.

"We really wanted those guys here," said Steinberg, noting that many of the soldiers had met with the Sox following the club's recent visit to the White House and then the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. "They have the capacity to penetrate the souls of our players. The part where our guys came to the top step there and high-fived 'em -- that wasn't in the script. That was just emotion taking over."

According to one member of the Sox front office entourage, the original script for Opening Ceremonies was revised 21 times. No. 22 went off virtually without a hitch, except it ran 10 minutes longer than scheduled, until just before 3:15.

"The applause factor," conceded Steinberg. "You can't schedule that."

Perhaps the quirkiest moment of the proceedings came amid the rarest of all back-to-back moments of silence. The first was for the late Pope John Paul II, and the crowd stood nearly at pin-drop silence. A few seconds later, the crowd was prompted for another moment of silence in memory of great Sox reliever Dick Radatz, the Monster, who died March 16. The pope lived a totally spiritual life, and the pitcher lived a life of totally high spirits.

Just as the moment for Radatz was about to end, someone in the crowd boomed out, "A-Rod, you suck!" Castiglione promptly followed with a terse, "Thank you." One could only imagine the monstrous Radatz filling the ballpark with his deep, baritone laughs.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 13, 2005 12:00 AM

You lost me at James Taylor . . .

I think that man-date fellow from yesterday chose Taylor to sing at the Fens, no?

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at April 13, 2005 11:27 AM