Beneath a glorious blue sky, on a crisp spring afternoon, major league baseball returned to New England for another season Friday.

The Boston Red Sox gathered at Fenway Park, a yard that has seen a century full of these home-opening celebrations.

The Boston Pops performed “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Sox veterans Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek, both recently retired, threw out the first pitches.

And maybe best of all, the Sox won, beating those upstart Tampa Bay Rays 12-2.

The victory doesn’t yet overcome this season’s slow start, nor does it erase the still-fresh memory of last September’s epic collapse.

But Friday helped. Baseball is back at Fenway, with all the hope that a new season brings.

– Staff Writer Kevin Thomas