courtesy gazette images

Lean On Me

Published On April 4, 2014 | By Paula Maloney

The Opening Day ceremony for the 2013 World Series Boston Red Sox Champions was simply brilliant. Dr. Charles Steinberg, the Red Sox executive Vice President and the mastermind behind the ring ceremony knocked one out of the park. The varied music that served as a backdrop for the event stuck several high notes with the crowd.

The message that the Red Sox organization hoped to send to its fans, the citizens of Boston  and beyond was not in dispute .

The city will always be Boston Strong.

Keith Lockhart, conductor of the Boston Pops opened the afternoon  with  an upbeat,  high spirited musical performance   The music provided the perfect backdrop for the coronation of baseball’s newest royalty.

The 103rd Opening Day at Fenway Park  was anything but predictable and led the players and fans through a myriad of emotions.  The ceremony celebrated last year’s best team in baseball, while honoring a city and heroes of another kind.

The fans were told to be in their seats promptly at 1:00, and  they were.  Every song had meaning.   The Who, the Dropkick Murphys, Journey, Bob Marley and Bill Withers  filled the Fenway air with music both familiar and fitting.

The show started as the banners were dropped dramatically over the Green Monster to theme from the 2001: A Space Odyssey.  The music then segued into  “Lean on Me” by  Bill Withers as victims and  family members of the 2013 Boston Marathon  made their way from the left field wall carrying the Championship rings.    Each wore a Red Sox jersey with the number  “617.”

The ring bearers made their way to the Red Sox dugout where hugs and handshakes were exchanged.

The ring ceremony was a single file procession with no announcer.  The music told the story.  It started with the Who’s “Baba O’Reilly.”  Dustin Pedroia  led the way followed by Jon Lester.

Bob Marley’s voice was next on the public address system as the song ” Three Little Birds” played to the delight of many.    General manager Ben Cherington stood with owners John Henry, Larry Luccchino, and Tom Werner  to hand out the hardware.  The music continued.  When Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” rang out everyone knew Shane Victorino was soon to follow.  The crowd embraced Marley’s message: “Don’t worry bout a thing cause very little thing is gonna be alright.”

Keith Lockhart led the Pops  through John Williams’ “Fanfare for Fenway” as the  final player came out to get his ring.  David Ortiz accepted his two rings – the second his 2013 Series World Series MVP ring – while the music trumpeted his other worldly playoff performance. Big Papi was back and the crowd loved it.

In a somber moment, the ballpark flag was lowered to half mast in memory of Boston Firefighters Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh  Michael R. Kennedy, who died  last week’s tragic blaze in the Back Bay. Family members on the field were greeted by the players as the public acknowledged their selfless bravery in the line of duty. The firefighters of Engine 33 and Ladder 15 were not to be forgotten.

The Dropkick Murphys belted out the ubiquitous crowd favorite “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” as the ceremonial first pitch was thrown by newly elected Mayor Marty Walsh.   As young Irish step dancers performed in the fungo circles, Fenway was transformed into an Irish festival.

The 2014 Opening Day Ceremony was one for the ages.  Dr. Charles prescribed the perfect mix of medicines to kick off the Sox’ defense of their World Series crown.

The eventual home opener loss did nothing to diminish the sights, sounds and emotions which preceded it and reverberated with fans long after the old ball park was emptied.

It was Boston at its best.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About The Author

I grew up outside of Boston with three brothers and immersed in sports early on. I studied at Boston University School of Education and spent summers as a lifeguard in Nantucket where I fell in love with the island and currently reside there. I work in real estate and as a broadcaster for Channel 99 covering the local sports scene on the island. I am an avid athlete but my passion is surfing. I have run three Boston Marathons and one New York Marathon which was truly a runner's high.I am the proud mother of Bizzy, in her second year of law school and Molly, a junior in college majoring in communications.