Yankees take in Red Sox celebration

Yankees take in Red Sox celebration

BOSTON -- Derek Jeter wanted to get a glimpse of how the other side lives. John Flaherty wanted to get a look at what this whole ring thing is all about. Joe Torre was curious to see what a celebration 86 years in the making looks like.

Whatever their individual reasons may have been, the Yankees sat in the third-base dugout at Fenway Park before Monday's game, watching their biggest rivals, the Red Sox, receive their 2004 World Series championship rings.

"They won the championship last year, and even though you envy what's going on and may be a little jealous of it, you can't ignore it," said Torre. "I think everyone was a little curious to see what the Red Sox would do on the day they got their World Series rings."

"I've been on the other end of a few of them, but I've never watched one," Jeter said. "You're probably a little jealous, but they deserved it. You have respect for what they accomplished, because you know how hard it is to do."

Jeter has been on the receiving side four times in his career, as have Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Tino Martinez. Many players in the Yankees' dugout don't have even one piece of hardware at home, so Monday may have served as some incentive for those men.

"What they accomplished last year was pretty special," said Alex Rodriguez. "Coming from a 3-0 deficit, it was a hell of a move. We were giving them their props, but this is a new year."

There was some good-hearted -- if unintentional -- tweaking during the ceremony as well, as members of the Boston Pops and Boston Symphony Orchestra played the theme to "Star Wars," conjuring thoughts of the infamous "Evil Empire" line uttered before the 2003 season by Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino.

All in all, the day was one to remember for the sellout crowd, which saw something they never dreamed they would in their lifetime, as the Red Sox received their rings and raised a championship banner.

Several Boston players were touched by the Yankees' decision to watch the ceremony, many of them crediting Torre for creating such a respectful atmosphere.

"Class acts. I think that starts with Joe Torre," said Trot Nixon. "I've always said, I have the utmost respect for that man, what he stands for and how he treats his ballplayers and opposing teams."

"That whole organization, that team over there, showed a bunch of class," said Kevin Millar. "We appreciated that and it just showed the class of that organization. Baseball is like a family. We compete to death, it's two great teams going at it each night. Everybody respects each other. We don't hate anybody. It's a great rivalry."

Torre exchanged glances with Boston skipper Terry Francona during the ceremony, then tipped his cap to Johnny Pesky, the long-time Sox fan favorite, as he was presented with a ring.

"Terry caught my eye. It's something that we were curious about, and you can't get the same flavor watching it on TV," Torre said. "I thought the most moving for me was Johnny Pesky. Pesk is quite a guy, I've known him a long time, and he's a very humble man. I really appreciate him."

"I thought what the Yankees did -- and I know a lot of people probably won't want to hear it -- I thought sitting out there the entire time watching showed a lot of class," Francona said. "I don't think our rivalry will ever get diminished. They are led by a really classy person, and that showed today."

When all the rings were passed out and the banner was flying high over center field, it was time to turn the page and look to the future. The Red Sox kept the momentum going with an 8-1 win over the Yankees, but this day will be remembered for what took place during the hour before the game more than anything else. That the Yankees were there to witness it first hand just made it more memorable.

"They won. For the respect of baseball, respect of the Red Sox organization, you have to be there. It's about respect," Rivera said. "After 86 years, they deserved to win one. Why not celebrate it as hard as they could? I had no problem with it."

"They did a good job. It was nice. The fans in Boston have waited a long time for this," Rodriguez said. "They won a world championship. Hopefully we'll get one this year."

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.