Setting down in Boston, wet Orioles stay parked

Day-night doubleheader planned today vs. R. Sox

April 12, 2003|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

BOSTON - It created quite a stir in New England when the Red Sox decided to install seats above Fenway Park's famous left-field wall. Orioles manager Mike Hargrove caught his first glimpse yesterday and said, "That doesn't look bad out there."

"If I was coming here to watch a game," Hargrove said, "that's where I'd want to sit - if it was 75 and sunny, not 32 and rainy."

It was about 42 and rainy here yesterday, and the Red Sox had to postpone their home opener against the Orioles, rescheduling it for today as part of a day-night doubleheader.

The Red Sox tried their best yesterday to get the game in, even though the forecast called for afternoon rains. They opened the gates and introduced both teams, giving fans a chance to boo each member of the struggling Red Sox bullpen.

With the Orioles standing and shivering next to the unfurled rain tarp, Lou Rawls sang the national anthem, and Ray Charles sang "God Bless America" while his grand piano was pelted by the pouring rain.

About an hour later, after the game had been postponed, Hargrove sat in his office and recalled his first memories of hearing Charles sing. Hargrove and his brother shared a bedroom growing up in Perryton, Texas, and he said they went to sleep almost every night for four years listening to a Charles record.

Hargrove smiled at the thought of hearing "Georgia On My Mind," until a few reporters looked at him quizzically. Every night for four years? "They had other songs on the record," Hargrove said. "If you stayed awake long enough, you heard the second song."

The mood was light, with the Orioles still feeling good about breaking a three-game losing streak with Thursday's 4-3 victory at Tampa Bay.

Hargrove and Red Sox manager Grady Little kept their pitching rotations intact, so Orioles pitcher Jason Johnson will square off with Pedro Martinez in the first game, with Rodrigo Lopez opposing Tim Wakefield in the nightcap.

Boston has more rain in the forecast today, but the Red Sox will try to get their opener in at 1 p.m., before clearing the stands and opening back up for the regularly scheduled 7 p.m. start.

The last time the Orioles were here for the Red Sox home opener was April 9, 1974. With snow, sleet and rain falling, they postponed that game and tried again the next day, using helicopters to try to dry the field.

That didn't work, either, so the teams came back and played the opener on April 11, with the Orioles winning, 7-6, in 11 innings.

To be sure, the Red Sox Nation takes this stuff about its ballpark seriously, which is why the club tiptoed lightly before putting those new seats above the Green Monster.

Fenway Park turns 91 this year, and fans weren't so thrilled at first about messing with tradition.

But Hargrove was impressed with how well the new seats blend in at the old ballpark. The three rows of seats are raised into platforms, with everything painted green, just like the wall.

The area includes 270 barstool seats with chair backs, running $50 apiece, and there's also 100 standing-room spots at $20 each. The Red Sox originally planned to open the area on April 29, but now they plan to have it ready by Tuesday.

So Hargrove won't get to see fans up there during this series, but the Orioles will be back twice later in the season.

Dr. Charles Steinberg, who got his start in baseball with the Orioles and now works as the Red Sox executive vice president for public affairs, used a musical analogy to describe what it will be like to unveil these seats.

"People love the park so much," Steinberg told the Boston Herald, "and to get to see a new view like this is like hearing a previously unreleased Beatles song."

Orioles today

Opponent:Boston Red Sox in day-night doubleheader

Site:Fenway Park, Boston

Times:1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.

TV/Radio:No TV first game; Ch. 54 second game/WBAL (1090 AM) both games.

Game 1 starters: Orioles' Jason Johnson (0-0, 0.00) vs. Red Sox's Pedro Martinez (0-0, 0.60).

Game 2 starters: Orioles' Rodrigo Lopez (0-1, 8.44) vs. Red Sox's Tim Wakefield (0-1, 5.73)

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.