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Numero Cinco Still Numero Uno

Wednesday, May 5, 2010 – Fenway Park, Section 43

Red Sox 3, Angels 1

It had been almost two weeks since my last game, so I was excited to get beck to Fenway.  On the road, the Red Sox had continued their Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr. Hyde season, raising our hopes by sweeping the Blue Jays but then crushing them by getting swept by the Orioles.  Their return home was going well so far, with wins in the first two games against the Angels.  Tonight it was Cinco de Mayo, and the Red Sox had chosen the fifth day of the fifth month to honor our own #5, the recently-retired Nomar Garciaparra, in a pre-game ceremony.  Nomar was the face of the franchise for 7+ years and is one of my all-time favorite players, so I was happy that the ceremony would be on a night when I had a ticket.

I left work at 4:30, as I always do when I have a weeknight game.  It’s an 18-mile drive to the T station and then a 45-minute subway ride to Fenway.  The 4:30 departure time usually gets me to the park between 6:15 and 6:20, plenty of time to grab something to eat, hit the ladies’ room, and make it to my seats before they start the pre-game ceremony.  But this time traffic on the Mass. Pike was horrible, and there were more snarls after I got off the highway.  The longer I sat in traffic, the more stressed I got that I would miss the ceremony.  I finally made it to the T station a little after 6, and it was 6:45 as I was walking up the hill from Kenmore Square.  I skipped the food and restrooms and went straight to my seat, hoping I hadn’t missed it.  As it turns out, I was just in time.

Red Sox owners Tom Werner, John W. Henry, and Larry Lucchino join Nomar's family, including his wife Mia Hamm, their twin daughters, and his parents, Sylvia and Ramon.  (Did you know Nomar is Ramon spelled backwards? Yeah, thought so.)

Red Sox owners Tom Werner, John W. Henry, and Larry Lucchino join Nomar's family, including his wife Mia Hamm, their twin daughters, and his parents, Sylvia and Ramon. (Did you know Nomar is Ramon spelled backwards? Yeah, I thought so.)

Red Sox ownership presented him with a watch and a pair of grandstand seats (numbers 5 and 6, just like him and Johnny Pesky) and then there was a video tribute.  Finally Nomar took the mic, and thanked the fans one more time.

"I get to tell a whole Nation, thank you and I love you."

"I get to tell a whole Nation, thank you and I love you."

Whatever issues he might have had with team management during the end of his tenure with the Red Sox, Nomar had always taken the time at the end of each season – whether it was a wild-card-clinching victory, a crushing playoff defeat, or just the final game of a year with no playoff implications – to come back onto the field at the end and thank the fans.  Tonight, it was great to be able to return the favor and welcome him back.  I had been completely devastated when he was traded away at the deadline in 2004, and even though that trade ended up being for the best, what bothered me then was that we never had a chance to say good-bye.  If he had left as a free agent, we would have given him a standing ovation every time up on the last day of the year, but as it was we didn’t get that chance.  Now tonight, I finally did, and it was a nice moment.

Tim Wakefield, Lou Merloni, David Ortiz, Trot Nixon, Kevin Youkilis, and Brian Daubach were on hand to welcome Nomie back.  Jason Varitek was behind the plate to catch the ceremonial first pitch.

Tim Wakefield, Lou Merloni, David Ortiz, Trot Nixon, Kevin Youkilis, and Brian Daubach were on hand to welcome Nomie back. Jason Varitek was behind the plate to catch the ceremonial first pitch.

Before he threw out the ceremonial first pitch, he was joined on the mound by his former teammates – Tim Wakefield, David Ortiz, and Kevin Youkilis, the players still on the team who were here when he played; Lou Merloni, one of Nomar’s closest teammates who now works for WEEI; Brian Daubach, who will be managing the independent league Pittsfield (MA) Colonials this summer; and Trot Nixon, who has retired, but apparently still hangs out in Boston.  Catching the first pitch was his teammate from both Georgia Tech and the Red Sox, Jason Varitek.  He threw the pitch sidearm, like his signature jumping, twisting throw from shortstop to first.

Nomar is welcomed back to Fenway.

Nomar is welcomed back to Fenway.

My seat was close to the ramp, so there was just enough time after the first pitch for me to run down to the restroom, grab a slice of pizza, and make it back to the seat before the game started.  The game pitted John Lackey against his former team for the first time, and pitching for the Angels was Joel Piñeiro, who was making the start against one of his former teams.  My friend joined me in the seats, celebrating Cinco de Mayo with a sombrero that she had sewn a Red Sox patch on (and greeted by shouts of “Hola” of course).

For one night anyway, the pitching, defense, and timely hitting all worked the way they’re supposed to.  In the second, after J.D. Drew walked and David Ortiz singled, an error by the third baseman on Adrian Beltre’s hit allowed the Red Sox to get on the board first.  Big Papi extended the lead in the fourth, when he launched a home run over the Green Monster.  It was good to see Papi heating up earlier than he had last year.  Lackey allowed a solo homer in the fifth, but other than that he had a very good outing.  He finished the 7th with just one run, two hits, and a walk.  (There was also a hit-by-pitch in the second; coincidentally, it happened to be catcher Mike Napoli, who had jawed at Kevin Youkilis and followed him down the line as Youk walked to first after being plunked earlier in the series.  I thought it was Lackey’s way of sending a message to his former catcher showing him which side he was on now.)

In the eighth, Beltre provided a valuable insurance run, homering over the centerfield cameras.  Daniel Bard pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning, and Jonathan Papelbon threw a quick 10-pitch ninth to wrap up a well-played game.

May 5, 2010 • Posted in: 2010 Games • Share on Facebook

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