TOKYO – Manny Ramirez hit a two-out, two-RBI double in the top of the 10th inning to give the Boston Red Sox a 6-5 win over the Oakland A's in major league baseball's opener today in Tokyo. It was the earliest start ever for a major league season. The game was marked by Red Sox opening-day starter Daisuke Matsuzaka's return to his homeland.
Earlier in the day former part owner of the Texas Rangers, ambassador J. Thomas Schieffer, hosted a luncheon reception welcoming officials and players from the Red Sox and Athletics to the U.S. embassy in Tokyo.
"The ceremonies are over and the cultural exploration is behind us," Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said at the embassy. "And now I think everybody's focused on playing baseball. I know the ambassador from our days in baseball.
"He's a bona fide, passionate baseball fan."
Schieffer, brother of CBS television correspondent Bob Schieffer, received autographed jerseys from each team with the number 08 and the name Schieffer on the back.
"It'll fit over a Boston jersey," Athletics owner Lew Wolff said jokingly when he handed the jersey to Schieffer.
Red Sox owner and chairman Tom Werner then presented a Boston jersey and countered that he hoped Schieffer "wears it over the Oakland jersey."
Schieffer was part of Bush's ownership group that bought the Texas Rangers in 1989.
"The honor is ours for all of us connected with major league baseball to open the season here," commissioner Bud Selig said, standing under a large chandelier in the high-ceilinged room.
The two-game series between Oakland and Boston is the third time major league baseball began its season in Japan. The others were in 2000 and 2004.
"There's nothing that we share together more between Japan and the United States than a love of baseball," Schieffer said. "It is the best export that the United States ever made to Japan."
He noted that General Douglas MacArthur and Emperor Hirohito met for the first time in 1945 in the room where Tuesday's reception was held.
"But what really makes this room famous is the fact that this is the room where ambassador (Joseph) Grew held a reception in 1934 for Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig" during a tour of U.S. players, Schieffer said. "And if you look back there behind the couch is Gehrig's glove he played with in Japan."
Managers Terry Francona of Boston and Bob Geren of Oakland attended, along with general managers Theo Epstein of the Red Sox and Billy Beane of the Athletics. Francona was among those who hustled off to Tokyo Dome before the buffet of beef tenderloin, crab cakes, lamb chops and assorted vegetable dishes.
"I've never (arrived) at the ballpark after noon in my life," he said, while acknowledging he enjoyed the event. "I get fidgety."
Players who attended were Tim Wakefield, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz from Boston and Huston Street, Alan Embree and Travis Buck from Oakland.
One of the biggest stars was the translator, who rarely hesitated in speaking rapidly after some long-winded remarks.
At one point, Gene Orza, chief operating officer of the Major League Baseball Players Association, said before she translated his comments: "Say something nice about yourself."