By Deborah Gilels
HOLLYWOOD, CA (RPRN/HT) 4/17/09 â€” The New York Yankees home opener against the Cleveland Indians was marked with pomp and circumstance inaugurating the new stadium. In an opening ceremony prior to the game John Fogerty and former Yankee outfielder Bernie Williams gave musical performances, the latter doing a guitar rendition of Take Me Out to the Ballgame. Other performers included Grammy winner Kelly Clarkson singing the National Anthem and the West Point Marching Band delivering a John Philip Sousa medley. Sousa and his band performed at the April 18, 1923 inauguration of the old Yankee Stadium.
Prior to the player introductions, former Yankee greats, including Williams, were honored. Among those in attendance were: Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Bucky Dent, Bobby Richardson, Reggie Jackson, Joe Pepitone, Ron Blomberg, Paul Oâ€™Neill, Ron Guidry, Jim Kaat, Tino Martinez, Craig Nettles, Mickey Rivers, Willie Randolph, Moose Skowron, and Dave Winfield. Also in attendance were the only three Yankee pitchers to pitch perfect games – Don Larsen (1956 World Series), David Wells (1998) and David Cone (1999).
C.C. Sabathia started for the Yanks against his old team. AL 2008 Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee started for the Indians. Yankee outfielder Johnny Damon had the stadiumâ€™s first hit and Yankee catcher Jorge Posada had the first home run. Indians Ben Francisco and Kelly Shoppach provided the first run and first RBI. Berra threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Yankee back up catcher Jose Molina. Missing from the festivities and Yankee line-up was All Star 3rd baseman Alex Rodriguez, who is on the disabled list, recovering from a hip injury.
The game remained tied at 1-1 until the seventh inning when the Indians offense finally broke through, scoring 9 runs, including a grand slam by Indian outfielder Grady Sizemore, and went on to defeat the Yankees with a lopsided final score of 10 to 2.