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Monday, April 8, 2013
Sox honor Jimmy Fund before game

By Tony Lee

BOSTON -- Beneath a cloudless sky Monday afternoon, the Red Sox celebrated their home opener in style with a touching tribute to the Jimmy Fund, which has now partnered with the team for 60 years.

Before longtime Red Sox radio play-by-play man Joe Castiglione and NESN play-by-play man Don Orsillo announced the rosters and starting lineups for Baltimore and Boston, the Jimmy Fund Chorus, which was created by the team in order to celebrate the anniversary, assembled in center field for a song.

Among the loudest ovations for players was the one reserved for rookie standout Jackie Bradley Jr. Also getting a hearty welcome were regulars such as Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Will Middlebrooks, whose three home runs in Toronto on Sunday were likely fresh in the minds of many fans.

Orsillo gave a hearty “Welcome back” before announcing John Lackey’s name. Lackey received a nice hand as he jogged out to the first-base line two days after straining a biceps muscle on the mound in Toronto in his first start since 2011.

Following introductions, there were brief words of remembrance for legendary Baltimore manager Earl Weaver and Mr. Red Sox, Johnny Pesky, both of whom passed in the previous year. Then, with a massive American flag unfurled across the Green Monster, the chorus sang the Star-Spangled Banner, which was punctuated by a flyover by two vintage P-51 Mustangs from the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation.

Several individuals whose lives have been impacted by the work of the Jimmy Fund -- accompanied by Red Sox greats such as Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield and Jim Rice -- threw out the first pitch in a line across the infield. On the receiving end were several current and former Red Sox players.

The festivities ended with the introduction of Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez, who got the biggest ovation of all. Martinez was introduced with a group Jimmy Fund chorus members who shouted “Play Ball,” into microphones in front of the Red Sox dugout.