Chicago Cubs Announce Opening Day Festivities

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The Cubs announced Opening Day festivities today for Friday, April 1 1:20 p.m. versus the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Ron Santo, Jr., the son of the Cubs legend, will lead the crowd in singing the seventh-inning stretch; Academy Award winning director Robert Redford will throw out a ceremonial first pitch.

Wayne Messmer will sing the National Anthem with the National 9/11 Flag on display in the outfield. Destroyed in the aftermath of the collapse of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 and stitched back together seven years later by tornado survivors in Greensburg , KS.

The Cubs will also have a pre-game moment of silence in honor of those affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and will conduct a collection at the ballpark to help raise funds for UNICEF to help children affected by the disaster.

During the last 13 seasons, no one led the crowd in the singing of the seventh-inning stretch more than Cubs legend Ron Santo, who passed away last December 3 at the age of 70. His son and namesake, Ron Santo, Jr., will lead the crowd in the singing on April 1 and visit both the WGN Radio and WGN TV broadcast booths as the Cubs continue to remember his father and our friend with a series of events and commemorations throughout the 2011 season, including a No. 10 patch worn by all uniformed personnel and Ron Santo Day on August 10, when the Cubs will dedicate a statue in Santo’s honor.

A lifelong baseball fan, Redford was a high school teammate of Hall of Fame pitcher Don Drysdale, and Redford earned a baseball scholarship to the University of Colorado as a pitcher before turning his attention to his acting career. During his legendary film career, Redford starred as Roy Hobbs, a player for the fictitious Brooklyn Knights, in the baseball classic, The Natural. During the film, Hobbs hit a game-winning home run in the ninth inning that shatters the scoreboard clock at Wrigley Field; the scene was set at Wrigley Field but filmed in Buffalo.

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