BOSTON -- No championship ring in sports history has ever been more anticipated than the jewels handed out to Red Sox players and coaches during the pregame ceremony Monday at Fenway Park.
And like the four DHL trucks carrying the precious metals to their intended recipients, the ring ceremony more than delivered in meeting the great expectations of players and coaches.
"That was amazing," Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon said after Boston's 8-1 win over the Yankees in the home opener. "It was better than I envisioned. The fact that they got to line us up, from the oldest to the youngest and then finished it off with Johnny Pesky, it was just incredible."
Don't expect Damon to hide the ring or be afraid to wear it in public.
"What's a safe deposit box?" responded Damon when asked about the possibility of playing it cool with the ring. "We're going to go and show it off, and knowing us, we'll probably hand it to fans -- and who knows where they'll end up."
Trot Nixon, as a nine-year member of the Red Sox, was the second player to receive his prize, after Tim Wakefield.
"It was very special, to have the opportunity to receive our rings, see a lot of our teammates from last year, some of the Red Sox greats out there to bring up the banner," he said.
"A lot of people hyped up the fact that the Yankees were going to be here, but it really didn't matter. It was a great day all around. A lot of people thought the game was secondary, but once we got the rings, we were focused on playing good baseball.
"I was just very excited to be back home with the fans at Fenway. Obviously, to get our rings in front of them was even more special."
Doug Mirabelli celebrated his new piece of jewelry by clubbing a two-run second-inning homer off Mike Mussina, staking Tim Wakefield and the Sox to a 2-0.
"It definitely was a relief there, to get the team out to a lead there," Mirabelli said. "[Fans] have waited a long time to see this. As a team here, it was just a great win for us. The ceremony was great and it's something we'll remember a long time."
"They're beautiful, they're beautiful," said a proud Curt Schilling. "They're special and they're nice."
Wakefield had perhaps the biggest challenge of the day, being the first to receive his ring and then heading out to the bullpen to get ready to take on the Yankees, most of whom were on the top step of the dugout watching the entire ceremony.
"I think it's important that we got a win today on ... Opening Day, the day we got our rings," Wakefield said. "The festivities that were going on and getting our rings, today is a pretty special day."
Mike Petraglia is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.