The Boston Red Sox threw a lavish 100th birthday party for venerable Fenway Park on Friday, but the New York Yankees dampened the festivities with a 6-2 victory.
The Yankees showed just how dangerous today’s sluggers can be in a ballpark built in the “dead ball” era, when baseballs didn’t fly so far, belting five home runs, including two by Eric Chavez.
Nick Swisher, Russell Martin and Alex Rodriguez also homered — Rodriguez notching the 631st of his career to move past former teammate Ken Griffey Jr on the all-time list.
Rodriguez now trails just Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willy Mays on the all-time home run list, with Mays 29 ahead.
“It’s very flattering and humbling when mentioned with some of these great names,” Rodriguez said.
For the Red Sox and their fervent fans, Friday was all about Fenway, the oldest operating big-league ballpark that hosted its first American League game on April 20, 1912 — a 7-6 11-inning Red Sox win against the forerunners of the Yankees, the New York Highlanders.
Both the Yankees and the Red Sox donned old-style uniforms, Boston players in off-white with “Red Sox” lettered on their chests and the Yankees in pre-pinstripe gray with “NY” on their caps and shirts.
In emotional pre-game festivities, a bevy of Red Sox greats took the field, including Hall-of-Famers Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice and Bobby Doerr.
The players gathered near second base as Oscar-winning composer John Williams conducted the Boston Pops orchestra in his new composition, Fanfare for Fenway.
The Pops also played the US national anthem and Hymn to New England.
Current Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, who hasn’t been too popular with Boston fans during the team’s slow start to the season, called the day “amazingly special.”
“I would say that this ballpark has created as many memories for people in this area and around the world as any venue in the world ... It has a magic to it. It’s the baseball land of Oz. People dream about this place,” he said.
Terry Francona, whose job as manager ended in acrimony after last season’s September collapse, had threatened to stay away, but relented and was greeted by a loud ovation.
The Yankees watched and applauded the pre-game ceremony from their dugout, then got down to the business of spoiling Boston’s fun.
Yankees right-hander Ivan Nova got the win, allowing two runs on seven hits in his six innings.
Nova walked none and struck out five and he has not lost since June 3 last year.