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03/25/08 11:22 AM ET

Rise and shine, Red Sox fans

Nation watches Opening Day close to Fenway Park

BOSTON -- For someone who dove into the frigid waters of Boston Harbor on New Year's Day, waking up before dawn and making his way with friends to Fenway Park for Opening Day in Japan was no big deal.

Such was the story for Jim Laughlin of Maynard, Mass., who, on the suggestion of his friends, came out to the Cask 'n Flagon across Lansdowne Street from Fenway Park to watch the Red Sox open their 2008 season against the Oakland A's.

"If we're stupid enough to dive in the ocean on Jan. 1, we can come down here and watch a game in the comfort of the Cask 'n Flagon," Laughlin said. "I don't have to get undressed."

There was some irony in the fact that Laughlin came out with friends Jennifer and Andy Jagolinzer on the advice of Ken Krilla, a diehard Yankees fan.

"We've done a lot of crazy things together, and I called my friends, who I knew would be crazy enough to do this," said Krilla, 36, from Arlington, Mass. "Whoever would be playing, I'd be just as energized to watch the game. The fact that it was the Red Sox, I knew I could convince these guys to do it. It made it a little easier."

Krilla remembered getting up several years ago and watching the Yankees open the 2004 season against the Rays in Tokyo. So he felt the same sense of excitement this time around.

"It's exciting," Krilla said. "I like it. I wish it were a little easier for everyone else to watch it, but it does show the diehard Red Sox fans, which is nice."

"It's a little exhilarating," said Jennifer Jagolinzer. "For me, it signifies Opening Day and a sign that we've made it through the winter. This is our reward in some ways for having put up with all of the snow and everything. Even though it's cold outside, I can see the light.

"Fenway's Opening Day [on April 8] is going to be another milestone. I'm just happy to be here with all the diehard fans."

Her husband, Andy, added perspective.

"When are you going to get the chance to do this again?" Andy asked rhetorically. "The fact that they're in Japan is pretty cool, and I know it's probably pretty hard on the players with all the travel. I thought they did it for our benefit so we could come here and get a free breakfast."

While some 300 people turned out, some as early as 4:30 a.m. ET, at the Cask 'n Flagon, even more people filed into the Game On! restaurant and State Street Pavilion inside Fenway Park itself.

"Believe it or not, we're actually open for breakfast every day, but this was a decision based on the demand of all of Red Sox Nation and our fans," said Lindsay Curtis, marketing and events manager for Game On! "We've just been getting a lot of inquiries and calls, and we just said, 'We've got to open.' We're seeing a lot of the regulars that were here during the playoffs and the World Series, and now they're back to open the season again."

Mike Petraglia is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.