Shabazz Napier throws a strike at Fenway.
April 23, 2014
BOSTON - The Boston Red Sox honored UConn's 2014 Men's Basketball National Championship by inviting the team to Fenway Park for their April 22 game against the New York Yankees and asking UConn senior All-American Shabazz Napier to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
The Huskies were ushered onto the field during batting practice, much to the delight of the early-arriving fans, who greeted them with cheers, applause, and cries of "Congratulations."
Napier, a native of nearby Roxbury, was asked to meet with the media in front of the Red Sox dugout.
"It's crazy how much basketball can get you," Napier told the press. "The Red Sox are playing the Yankees and I'm here to throw out the first pitch."
Napier, named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, did plenty of interviews, including a pregame chat on NESN with Tom Caron and and an inning or so in the WEEI radio booth with announcers Dave O'Brien and Joe Castiglione.
Meanwhile, Napier's teammates spent the pregame accepting congratulations and exchanging handshakes with the likes of Yankees manager Joe Girardi and first baseman Mark Teixeira and hearing the praise of Red Sox manager John Farrell and All-Star David Ortiz.
"They played with an awful lot of confidence," Farrell said, "and you could see that there was such momentum, regardless of the seeding they had, there was nothing that was going to stop them. More than anything, the energy they played with and confidence they played with, that was evident when they went onto the court."
"At that level, to compete and win the championship when you're playing against so many good teams, it's impressive, man," added Ortiz. "The attitude was there, the intensity. The coach, man, he did an amazing job, keeping them positive. I think it was great."