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July 29, 2009

Rice proud to be among Sox elite

BOSTON - Jim Rice may not have thrown a perfect strike for the ceremonial first pitch prior to last night's 9-8 loss to the Oakland Athletics, (it was a bit high) but that's not what the 38,084 fans at Fenway Park will remember years from now.

What they, and Rice himself, will recall is the unveiling of the newly-inducted Hall of Famer's famed No. 14 on the right-field faÃßade as the legendary left fielder became the seventh member of the Red Sox organization to have his jersey number retired by the club.

Rice, who hit .298 with 382 home runs and 1,451 RBIs in 2,089 games spanning 16 seasons all in Boston, was awed by the gravity of the situation.

"When you think about being in the same category as (Ted) Williams and (Carl) Yastrzemski ... being in the Hall of Fame with those two other left fielders, that's a lot," Rice said.

With former teammates Carlton Fisk, Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans (among others) on hand, Rice delivered an impassioned address. Rice's career-long mentor, Johnny Pesky, unveiled the newest retired number.

"I was thinking that (Pesky) wasn't raising that number for me, he was raising it for us," said Rice. "He worked with me every day on offense an d defense. ... Johnny was a father figure, a mentor to me."

Current Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay hasn't spent as much time around Rice as most of his Red Sox teammates, but he's certainly still able to fully appreciate the accomplishments of the 1978 MVP and eight-time All-Star.

He's a hit!

Jacoby Ellsbury extended his multi-hit game streak to five games yesterday, going 2 for 6 with two singles. Prior to last night's game, Ellsbury was 9 for 18 with three doubles and a triple over the four-game span. He is second on the team only to Dustin Pedroia, who has 33 multi-hit games this year. The last player to tally at least five straight multi-hit games was Coco Crisp, who had six from Sept. 2-8 last season.

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