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BOSTON (CBS) – After Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek announced their retirements during spring training, it was only fitting to have the two throw out the first pitch for the Red Sox‘ 2012 Home Opener.
Varitek and Wakefield took the field at Fenway Park to a rousing applause, as they walked out from behind the giant American flag that covered the Green Monster.
However, instead of forming a battery on the mound and behind the plate — as a pitcher and catcher often do — the two of them got to throw out their own first pitch, and to a couple of Red Sox legends.
Jim Rice and Dwight Evans came out from the Sox’ dugout, and caught the first pitches from the new retirees.
“It’s nice to see a game here from a different view,” said Varitek, who spent 15-seasons behind the plate for Boston.
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“It was very emotional for both of us standing behind the flag and reminiscing on our time together and trying to get the walk over with as fast as possible to get off the field,” joked Wakefield, whose knuckleball danced around Fenway for 17-seasons. “It’s a special day, it really is. Spending this much time with this guy and being able to share it with him today, throwing out the first pitch for the home opener was pretty special.”
For both of them, it was a no-brainer to return for the special day on Friday.
“This ballpark is so special. Playing here as long as we have, and learning the history when we got here, what a cathedral. It’s like going to church every day,” said Wakefield. “Fenway is the star, as well as our fans. They are our 10th or 26th man on the roster. There have been many times you can feel the momentum change in this ballpark; especially in October. I think it’s helped us win a lot of ball games here.”
“It’s a unique home that we have had parts of being through different (eras), I would say, the pre-championship and the post-championship. It’s brought energy from negative energy to positive energy, from people wondering when they’re going to get their hearts broken to when are we going to win our next one,” said Varitek. “Playing here every day, day in and day out, we were spoiled in those regards because of the support, the 10th man that this fan base can give you on the field. It always needs to be steered in the right direction, though. Like now, these guys need it. They need these guys in the stands.”
For Varitek, he may be calling Fenway his home once again, as he and the team are still talking about a job within the organization.
“We’re still talking. I’ve had some things that have kept me busy at home, family stuff; so work in progress,” said Tek. “There’s a lot of newness, a lot of things going on but continuing to talk and trying to figure out if there can be help. But in-between I keep my lines of communication open with (bullpen coach) Gary Tuck and my catchers and my pitchers and stuff.”