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2001 Puerto Rico Opening Day 2001 Puerto Rico Opening Day

Fans flock in 85 degree weather to see their heroes play baseball

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The Famous "Green Box"

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A Rootin' Tootin' Baseball Opener in Puerto Rico... Year 2001
Bands playing, baseball-loving fans cheering amid 85 degree weather in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

April 1, 2001 by - Internet News Service

Pastelillos and pina coladas instead of peanuts and hot dogs were the game's norm as a stadium packed crowd of 19,891 attended the first-ever, regular-season major league game played in Puerto Rico and watched the Toronto Blue Jays pound the Texas Rangers 8-1, in Sunday's opening day of the 2001 season.

Fans scurried outside the park - before the game - buying baseball caps, jerseys, T-shirts and other souvenirs. There even was a concession stand that sold only Roberto Clemente's stuff.

Clemente, a member of the Hall of Fame is a native of Puetro Rico, played his entire career with the Pittsburgh Pirates and finished his career with 3,000 hits is a legend in baseball lore.

Orlando Cepeda, another native of Puerto Rico and Hall of Famer, said it best: "People love baseball here, and it is difficult to describe the passion... this is a fantastic thing for this country."

Clemente's wife, Vera, and Cepeda threw out the honorable first pitch.

All-Star catcher Ivan Rodriguez was the team's only active Puerto Rico native player on the Rangers, but they also have outfielder Ricky Ledee who's on the DL. Rodriguez and his 8-year old son, Ivan Jr., dressed in a Rangers' uniform, came onto the field waving their country's flag during pre-game introductions.

Carlos Delgado and Jose Cruz, Jr. are the two natives of Puerto Rico on the Toronto Blue Jays' team.

The Ball Game:

Shortstop Alex Rodriguez, baseball's first $252 million player, got the 2001 season's first hit - a grounder into left field in the first inning and scored the Rangers only run.

The Blue Jays scored early and often against Rangers' starter Rick Helling (0-1) and reliever Mark Petkovsek to build a 8-1 lead going into the eight inning. Helling surrendered 4-hits, 4-runs thru 6 innings, Petkovsek got shelled for 4-hits, 4-runs without retiring a single Toronto batter.

The game's winning pitcher was Esteban Loaiza (1-0) who allowed 8-hits, 1-run in 7 innings.

Quick Statistics:

Toronto: Shannon Stewart, LF, 3-for-5, 2 Runs, 2 RBIs... Alex Gonzales, SS, 3-for-5, 1 Run, 1 RBI.

Doubles: Stewart, Gonzalez and Homer Bush... Homers: Stewart and Tony Batista

Rangers: Alex Rodriguez, SS, 2-for-4, 1 Run... Ken Caminiti, 3B, 2-for-4... Rafael Palmeiro, 1B, 0-for-4, 1 RBI.


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