“The Greatest” stars as opening act for rivalry showdown

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JAY COHEN, AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Anytime Muhammad Ali is on the undercard, it must be a big fight.

Ali received a warm welcome Thursday night when he was honored before the New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 13-6 in the opener of a four-game set between the heated rivals.

The Yankees showed highlights of some of Ali’s fights on the videoboards in center field before the boxing great was driven in a golf cart through an opening near the visitors’ bullpen in left-center field.

Wearing dark sunglasses, Ali pointed and waved to the crowd as he traveled along the warning track. Yankees catcher Jorge Posada stopped the cart in right-center so he could greet the former heavyweight champion.

“I got chill bumps, to tell you the truth,” Posada said. “I didn’t know what to say. It was a good feeling to see him at the stadium.”

The cheers grew louder as he approached home plate and the crowd chanted “Ali! Ali!” Red Sox slugger David Ortiz ran in from the outfield so he could get a closer look, and most of the Yankees lined the top step of the dugout and applauded.

Ali, who has Parkinson’s disease, helped present the Yankees with two awards from the American Academy of Hospitality Services. Shortstop Derek Jeter gave him a Yankees hat before the entire New York dugout emptied out for a picture behind home plate.

Ali, 67, fought across the street at the old Yankee Stadium in 1976, beating Ken Norton in a 15-round unanimous decision. His adopted son, Asaad Ali, is a catching prospect who was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the 40th round of the June draft.

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