The Associated Press
The Green Monster was transformed into a sea of red, white and blue and the World Series banner was unveiled in Arizona. Once the games began, Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens were hit hard.
Opening day at 10 ballparks had a little bit of everything yesterday, including packed stadiums.
An overflow crowd of 51,638 – the largest regular-season turnout in Turner Field’s six-year history – saw the Atlanta Braves beat Philadelphia 7-2.
“It’s great to see,” Braves star Chipper Jones said. “I really didn’t notice it until the eighth inning. I looked around and said, ‘All right.’ Maybe we can get these fans excited about the brand of baseball we’re going to play.”
At Camden Yards, where a crowd of 48,058 saw Baltimore beat Clemens and the New York Yankees 10-3, one of the biggest cheers came when University of Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams was shown on the scoreboard.
In a taped message, Williams wished the Orioles luck and said he hoped to bring home a national title. Maryland later beat Indiana, 64-52 to capture the championship.
Roberto Alomar, one of several big-name players to change teams in the winter, drove in two runs as the New York Mets beat Pittsburgh 6-2 before a crowd of 53,734, an opening day record at Shea Stadium.
“It’s a beautiful day,” Alomar said. “The big stage, the fans know the game. It’s really important to start on the right foot.”
Fenway Park’s famous left-field wall was draped with an American flag for the national anthem as the Red Sox set out to end a World Series drought that has lasted since 1918.
Without their own title to celebrate, the Red Sox paid tribute to the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots with 23 football players emerging from behind the wall and throwing baseballs to Red Sox players. Safety Lawyer Milloy carried the Super Bowl trophy, bringing it to shortstop Nomar Garciaparra to rub.
Martinez, hoping for a healthy season, fell behind 7-1 in the second inning. Boston came back to take the lead, but lost 12-11 to Toronto.
In Cincinnati, a cow who avoided workers in a local park for 10 days after escaping from a meatpacking plant, was given a key to the city but was too unruly to appear in a parade celebrating the opener between the Reds and Chicago Cubs.
The 1,100-pound animal was agitated by the marching bands and crowd noise and ruled out of the parade.
Marge Schott, a part owner of the Reds who keeps cattle at her suburban Cincinnati home, said she tried to feed the cow “goodies” but was shooed away by its attendants.
The Reds won their final opener at Cinergy Field, 5-4 on Aaron Boone’s ninth-inning sacrifice fly.
Arizona raised the World Series championship banner over the swimming pool at Bank One Ballpark. Then Randy Johnson punctuated the celebration, shutting out San Diego 2-0.