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Friday, April 4, 2014
Red Sox get rings at ceremony

By Tony Lee
Special to ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- The Red Sox received their 2013 World Series rings Friday afternoon as part of a stirring pregame ceremony at Fenway Park that paid tribute to the team's incredible run, the city's comeback in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings and its fallen heroes.

The events began with a video montage that showed highlights of the 2013 season, after which banners for the team's eight world championships were unfurled one by one from atop the Green Monster.

In perhaps the most touching moment of the afternoon, survivors of the Boston Marathon bombings and their relatives delivered the rings in cases from left field to a table in front of the Red Sox dugout while the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra played.

The survivors then shook hands with Red Sox executives and several players standing at the top of the dugout before taking seats on folding chairs down the first-base line. One survivor made it a point to take a selfie with David Ortiz, who famously caught one with President Obama during the team's White House visit on Thursday.

After general manager Ben Cherington, manager John Farrell and Red Sox coaches trotted out to receive their rings, the players came one by one to get theirs, also shaking the hands of team executives before forming a line extending toward the center-field wall.

David Ortiz
David Ortiz holds up his World Series ring Friday at Fenway Park.

Ortiz was last, sporting his '04 and '07 World Series rings on a chain around his neck. He was handed his '13 ring as well as another to honor his World Series MVP performance against St. Louis in October. The two new rings were soon added to the chain.

Ortiz then finished the line in center field and the players and coaches helped raise American and championship flags up the pole at the end of the Green Monster. In another moving tribute to the city's true heroes, members of Engine 33 and Ladder 15 -- which lost two firefighters in a Back Bay blaze last week -- emerged from the gate in the center-field wall and pulled the flags to half-staff before shaking hands with players and coaches.

Relatives of Edward J. Walsh Jr. and Michael R. Kennedy were among those in an emotional greeting line, each receiving hugs from Ortiz and several others.

The rings are crafted in 14-karat white gold and feature 126 diamonds, 16 custom-cut sapphires and nine custom-cut rubies. Each piece totals nearly eight carats. One side of the ring has the individual's name and number and another side features a "Boston Strong" logo with the Red Sox "B" that became so synonymous with the team's efforts in the wake of the bombings.

Players with multiple titles in Boston have multiple trophy images on their rings to represent each crown, and the inside of the rings pay tribute to the Bearded Brothers image and portrays the date 10-30-13, when the World Series was clinched at Fenway.

Ortiz's MVP ring is also of 14-karat white gold and encrusted with nine rubies depicting the hanging Sox logo. It says "World Series" across the top and "MVP" just below, with a Red Sox "B" logo on one side and Ortiz's jersey number 34 below. Also on the one-of-kind piece is an image of Ortiz's face with his name on top and 2013 below.

With the cases holding the World Series rings in the hands of those who earned them, all that remained on the table in front of the Red Sox dugout was the 2013 World Series trophy.

The Milwaukee Brewers were introduced along the third-base line, with Ryan Braun getting booed heartily in his first road game since returning from a steroid suspension.

Boston's 2014 edition was then introduced before longtime Red Sox radio announcer Joe Castiglione asked for a moment of silence for Walsh, Kennedy, late Plymouth Police Officer Gregory Maloney and the victim of a Waltham fire early Friday morning.

The Dropkick Murphys, for years now the authors of anthems synonymous with the city and its teams, performed the national anthem before the band offered a rousing edition of its hit "Shipping up to Boston." An MH-60T helicopter from the United States Coast Guard performed a flyover on behalf of all branches of the armed forces.

The roughly hour-long ceremony was capped by one last chapter that linked the city's political might with its four-team athletic prowess. From left field came Red Sox legends Pedro Martinez, Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek carrying World Series trophies and former Patriots Tedy Bruschi, Troy Brown and Ty Law hoisting Super Bowl trophies, all six of them flanking a cart with former mayor Tom Menino riding shotgun. Former Bruins player Mark Recchi, a part of that team's 2011 Stanley Cup win, drove the cart and Leon Powe, a member of the Celtics' 2008 title team, was in the back.

Menino handed a baseball off to current mayor Marty Walsh, who threw the ceremonial first pitch to Ortiz. Jake Peavy threw the actual first pitch moments later and the Red Sox -- and their city -- turned an eye toward 2014.