BOSTON (AP) — Fenway Park is ready for its 100th birthday and the Boston Red Sox are planning a big party.
After a decade of renovations to the majors' oldest ballpark, the team has put on some finishing touches to get it ready for this season. The home opener is Friday, and a week later the Red Sox will celebrate the anniversary of Fenway's opening on April 20, 1912, when they play the New York Yankees.
The festivities started on Monday, when the Harvard baseball team took batting and fielding practice to mark the 100th anniversary of their 1912 exhibition game against the Red Sox — the first game played at Fenway. Harvard and Red Sox alum Mike Stenhouse pitched batting practice.
"Harvard baseball is thrilled to be included in the birthday celebration at Fenway Park," Crimson baseball coach Joe Walsh said. "Our guys look forward to any chance to set foot on a major league baseball diamond — in this case a batting practice session where many will take aim at the Green Monster. These are special moments that all young baseball players dream about and Harvard has been fortunate to have these opportunities every few years."
Although past years' offseason renovations included visible and popular additions such as the Monster Seats and new concourses, this year's work was designed to put the finishing touches on a decade of work.
Among the additions:
—A patio of inscribed bricks purchased by fans. More than 18,500 were sold. Also featured are 35 handprints from "influential figures in Red Sox and Fenway Park history," including Bobby Doerr, Dennis Eckersley, Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice and Carl Yastrzemski.
—Plaques around the park explaining points of interest, such as "Canvas Alley" and the Red Sox clubhouse.
—Season ticket-holders' club, featuring historic panels and artifacts tracing the history of the team and the ballpark. The highlight: a collection of baseballs autographed by the World Series teams from every season since 1920 (one is missing). It was loaned to the team by a donor who has chosen to remain anonymous.
Also Monday, the team gave Mayor Tom Menino a tour. Because Menino was in a walking boot, he was driven around by Red Sox president Larry Lucchino in the bullpen cart that was used from 1968-78 to bring relievers into the game.
The cart was restored and will be displayed as part of the ballpark's "Living Museum" theme.