Lifelong fan returns to historic Fenway Park
Senator Edward M. Kennedy threw out the first pitch today at Fenway Park to open the 2009 season for the Boston Red Sox. Hall-of-Fame electee Jim Rice, who played 15 seasons in left field with the Red Sox, caught the ceremonial pitch in advance of Monday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
"It's the thrill of a lifetime."
- Senator Kennedy.
"It's the thrill of a lifetime," said Senator Kennedy of throwing out the first pitch. "I wasn't born when my grandfather, Mayor Honey Fitz, threw out Fenway Park's first-ever pitch at its 1912 opener, but I know how proud he was to be a loyal member of the famous ‘Royal Rooters' and to be a part of Red Sox history that day. I'm honored to be joined by Jim Rice, whose election to the Hall of Fame in January is so well-deserved. I'm very grateful to the Boston Red Sox for this amazing opportunity, and I look forward to another World Championship season this year."
Senator Kennedy's love for the Red Sox is rooted in both his grandfathers. Patrick J. Kennedy, his paternal grandfather, took his son Joseph P. Kennedy to many games at Fenway Park growing up. Joseph Kennedy loved the game, and played baseball at Harvard, becoming Harvard's baseball coach in 1915.
Boston Mayor John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, Senator Kennedy's maternal grandfather, was an ardent member of the "Royal Rooters" - a group of Red Sox fans who staged parades in the outfield before games and sang "Tessie" and "Sweet Adaline." As Mayor of Boston, Honey Fitz threw out the first pitch at the first game when Fenway Park opened in 1912 and threw out the first pitch at the first World Series game ever played at Fenway Park that fall. The game was called because of darkness, and was replayed the next day. The Red Sox won the World Series that year, and again in 1915, 1916 and 1918.
During the 1967 "Impossible Dream" season, the pennant came down to two final games with the Minnesota Twins. Senator Kennedy, his father Joseph P. Kennedy, his brother New York Senator Robert Kennedy and Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey attended the first of the two games. The Red Sox won 6-4, and winning pitcher Jose Santiago gave Senator Kennedy the game ball, which sits on his desk in his Boston office today. The Red Sox went on to win the pennant, but lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games in the World Series.
Senator Kennedy also shared a special relationship with Carl Yastrzemski, who that year became the last winner of the Triple Crown for hitters in the Major League. Yastrzemski gave the Senator his Gold Glove and MVP Award from that year, and both are displayed in Senator Kennedy's Boston office today.
(Material supplied by Sen. Kennedy's office.)