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Red Sox earn record-breaking 456th straight regular-season sellout

9/8/2008 - MLB Boston Red Sox

BOSTON -- Red Sox owners, players and former infielder Johnny Pesky greeted fans and handed out commemorative tickets to mark the team's record-breaking 456th straight regular-season sellout Monday night.

"That's flattering for us to do that," the 89-year old Pesky, seated in a chair outside Gate D, said about welcoming fans as they entered 96-year-old Fenway Park.

Just down the street named Yawkey Way in honor of former Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey, Boston pitchers Tim Wakefield and Mike Timlin, two of four players who have been with the team throughout the streak, smiled and handed out the souvenir tickets.

A few feet away, team owners John Henry and Tom Werner and president Larry Lucchino shook hands with and thanked fans at the turnstiles as they entered the park.

"Everyone said you have no idea what you're in for with Red Sox nation," Henry said in front of the Red Sox dugout before Boston's 3-0 win against Tampa Bay. "It's just incredible. It's hard to put into words. We have a deep appreciation with the loyalty of the fans."

Wakefield, the longest tenured member of the team after coming to the Red Sox in 1995, also thanked fans for their support before one middle-aged female fan had a surprise for him.

"Thank you," she said as she leaned forward and kissed his left cheek.

The Red Sox began their streak on May 15, 2003 and broke the Cleveland Indians' mark, set from June 12, 1995 to April 2, 2001 at Jacobs Field.

"This is a night to honor the fans," Lucchino said.

Before the Red Sox took the field, "Thank You Fans" flashed on the center field scoreboard.

Three fans threw out ceremonial first pitches to David Ortiz, Wakefield and Timlin, and the owners and pitchers in the Boston bullpen threw balls to fans in the stands.

"We don't have any projections for how long it can go on," Lucchino said. "We've seen other teams with long streaks fall off. As long as we stick to the basics and put a team worthy of the fans' support on the field" it should continue.

Fenway has the smallest seating capacity in the majors, 36,984 for day games when two sections of the centerfield bleachers are covered with a black material to help the hitters' background. It seats 37,400 for night games.

"They are the best fans in baseball," Werner said. "We thank them every day."

Ortiz and team captain Jason Varitek are the other players who have been with the team for the entire sellout streak.