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06/10/06 10:56 PM ET

A dog day turns into, well, a dog day

Sox ownership provides free hot dogs to rain-drenched fans

BOSTON -- On a day that was supposed to be defined by the debut of rookie left-hander Jon Lester, the rain stole the show. After sitting through a weather delay of almost five hours on Saturday, the soaked and patient Red Sox fans who demonstrated their devotion were not treated to a home victory, but they received free hot dogs.

With an excitement that is normally reserved for playoff games, thousands of Red Sox fans throughout the stadium jumped out of their seats and sprinted, yes, sprinted, toward the concession stands with the announcement over the public address system about the free food.

The free hot dogs were a gesture of appreciation by Red Sox ownership.

"We've been here since 11 a.m. with 35 eighth-graders and it's a two-hour trip to get here," said Patti Abbott, of Walpole, N.H. The children "were all out of money. Since we've been waiting here for so long they've spent all of it."

Saturday's day game of a scheduled doubleheader against Texas had previously been rained out on May 13 and the first pitch slated for 1:25 p.m. ET did not cross home plate until 6:12 p.m.

"I was sitting on pins and needles about whether it was going to be cancelled, but I'm still here for my free hot dog," said Pete Carll of Braintree, Mass.

However, the Red Sox faithful seem to still have their priorities straight.

Dawn Rousseau of Richmond, R.I., added, "I was here at 12:30 p.m. and I was going to stay whether there was a hot dog or not."

Said manager Terry Francona: "I was amazed. I went out in the dugout a couple of times just to check the conditions. I've never seen fans like ours. They just, they sat out there in the rain and they're yelling and they're ready to play, it's unbelievable."

Howard Kussoy is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.