FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Gillette Stadium was turned into Fenway Park West for a little while on Sunday afternoon.
The New England Patriots honored the World Series champion Boston Red Sox before their game with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and later the fans serenaded outfielder Shane Victorino with his walk-up song, “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley.
“It was an awesome experience,” said pitcher Jon Lester. “I’m glad I got to be part of it. I’m glad I stuck around an extra day to be part of it.”
A day after a duck boat parade through Boston and on the Charles Rivers, Lester was one of 10 Red Sox players – including Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, Stephen Drew, Johnny Gomes, John McDonald, Will Middlebrooks (a close friend of Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett), David Ross, Matt Thornton and Victorino – along with owner John Henry and third base coach (and native Mainer) Brian Butterfield to be honored at midfield.
They entered through the Patriots tunnel – Gomes sprinting onto the field in a mad dash to a huge ovation – with Lester carrying the World Series trophy. He also joined the Patriots captains at midfield for the coin toss.
“It was nervewracking,” said Lester, of carrying the trophy. “I didn’t want to drop it.”
Later in the second quarter, Patriots fans had a chance to serenade Victorino when he and the rest of the team were shown in their luxury box on the video scoreboard. His song, “Three Little Birds” was played and as he orchestrated the crowd from his box, everyone sang, “Every little thing is gonna be all right.”
The fans appeared to know all the lyrics, which were sung in their entirety during a television timeout.
“This is what it’s all about,” said Victorino, who drove in four runs in the clinching Game 6 victory last Wednesday at Fenway.
Victorino said coming out of the Patriots tunnel “was an adrenalin rush. I wanted to relive my heydey, running out of the tunnel with my football pads on.”
He added that these last five days have been magical.
“If coming here and telling me on Nov. 22 (when he signed last year) that I would have 75-degree weather, the sky would be blue and I’d be going down a duck boat on Boylston Street, known as a world champion, I would have said ‘no way.’ So that in itself caps what we all call a magical year, a special year for us.”
Lester was asked about pitcher Jake Peavy buying the duck boat the two of them shared Saturday. He said he wasn’t surprised.
“I was just glad I got to ride on it (Saturday), that was kind of fun,” he said.
“I think this was like a thing in the making for him for a while. I know we’ve talked about duck boats before and he said, ‘Hey, if we get there, I’m buying mine.’
“I think everyone thought he was kidding, but he actually did it. More power to him.”
And of Gomes’ entrance out of the tunnel?
“That’s about par for the course for him,” said Lester. “I don’t expect anything less from him. You know he’s going to enjoy every minute of it and probably do something that nobody else is going to do. I don’t think he caught any of us by surprise.”
That the Patriots invited the Red Sox to Gillette was special. All the professional teams in Boston support each other, he said.
“I know it’s cool for us when these guys show up at Fenway when they win, and the Celtics and Bruins the same thing,” said Lester.
“I think we spend so much time up here, and a lot of the football guys live up here, it’s like home for them, rooting for the home team.
“It’s awesome to be part of this and we thank these guys for inviting us over there and giving us a chance to experience this.”
Mike Lowe can be reached at 791-6422 or at:firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: MikeLowePPH