Rather than make their first entrance from the dugout, each player on the roster came through the stands, most high-fiving with fans all the way down.
The national anthem was originally to be performed by the singer Seal, but yesterday's rainout meant that Seal had to leave for a concert tour, and the Boston Pops stepped in to fill the gap.
A giant American flag hung over the Green Monster, and color guards from each of the Armed Service branches stood on the Fenway Grass as the anthem played.
As the national anthem reached its final stanzas, four F-15 fighters from Barnes Air National Guard base thundered over the stadium, and the day's two special guests arrived to throw out the first pitch. Sen. Edward Kennedy, (D-Mass) rode out of the outfield wall on a golf cart with newly minted Hall of Famer Jim Rice, and the pair walked up to the mound to kick off the season.
Kennedy, who has struggled with health problems of late, set up on the mound perhaps six feet from Rice, who would catch the ceremonial pitch. Kennedy missed with his first effort, tossing the ball to the ground. But the proud Senator asked for a do-over, and on his second try, got the ball into Rice's glove, to warm applause.
Once Kennedy motored off, Johnny Pesky declared 'play ball,' the flag was pulled down from the Monster, and the players took the field.
Christ, that brings a tear to my eye just reading it.