EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Patriots

November 1, 2007

'67 Sox were there from start to finish

They were there en masse on Opening Day. They were there for the beginning of the World Series. And they also showed up a few times in between.

Nobody could blame the 1967 Red Sox for feeling like major partners with their 2007 brethren as the team honored the 40th anniversary several times during the past season.

All of those who showed up on Opening Day threw out the collective first pitch. Jim Lonborg threw out the first pitch for the Red Sox playoff opener. And, of course, Captain Carl Yastrzemski threw out the first pitch for the World Series opener.

Lonborg joked about the many visits after throwing out the first pitch on Oct. 3.

"We've been around here so much I was hoping the fans weren't sick of seeing us," said Lonborg.

Williams, of course, wasn't joking. He was extremely appreciative.

"I was up there three different times and I had a ball every time," said 1967 Red Sox manager Dick Williams. "All you had to do is count how many guys were there to understand how much we appreciated it. We really started things (the 1967 team). I really believe that we helped make baseball important in Boston."

Williams would have a tough time getting an argument about when this craziness, which turned a 162-game baseball season into 162 do-or-die-100-meter dashes, all began.

"I have to say, it was our year, 1967," said ex-Red Sox shortstop and third baseman Rico Petrocelli, still featuring those boyish cheeks and that humble-as-pie personality. "I believe the Red Sox Nation was born that year, when baseball became something special."

Yastrzemski wasn't sure about the "seed" of Red Sox Nation being planted 40 years ago, but he was sure about the team's support before 1967 and since.

"How many fans were there on Opening Day (in 1967)? Eight-thousand?" said Yaz. "That was a lot of people. It was a very different place to play around here my first six years. It's no fun playing baseball when you're 30 games out."

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