Watch: Mookie Betts receives standing ovation in his return to Fenway Park

Red Sox

“That first at-bat is going to be something that he will remember forever.”

Los Angeles Dodgers' Mookie Betts tips his helmet as he comes up to bat against the Boston Red Sox during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 25, 2023, in Boston.
Mookie Betts was greeted with a standing ovation on Friday night at Fenway Park. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

In the days leading up to his anticipated return to Fenway Park, Mookie Betts admitted that he wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.

“I’m really nervous,” Betts said earlier this week. “Like, I’m really nervous. It’s more just that I haven’t been back in so long. It’s where I grew up, and I don’t know what to expect. Hopefully it’s cool, though.”

He didn’t have to worry all that much.

For the first time since Sept. 29, 2019, Betts stepped up to home plate at Fenway Park to lead off a contest — making his way up from the visitor’s dugout this time around.

As expected, the 30-year-old superstar earned a standing ovation from the over 30,000 fans in attendance at Fenway. As the cheer carried on, Betts took off his helmet and saluted the fans.

You can watch Betts’ warm welcome in his return to Boston below.

Speaking ahead of first pitch, Betts acknowledged that he was looking forward to getting the emotions out of the way in the early going as the Dodgers’ leadoff man.

“I’m sure, that probably makes it a little bit easier,” Betts said. “Get it done at the beginning of the game. … I don’t want to rush it. … I just want to enjoy the moment. Be where my feet are and see what happens.”

The expected standing ovation came as no surprise to manager Alex Cora, who vouched for Red Sox fans to give the 2018 World Series champion an ovation after six standout seasons in Boston.

Betts played in Boston from 2014-19. The five-tool outfielder took home the American League MVP during a 2018 season that saw Boston win a franchise-best 108 games en route to a World Series title.

Betts also captured four All-Star nods, four Gold Gloves, and four Silver Sluggers, to go along with a runner-up spot in the 2016 AL MVP voting behind Mike Trout.

“He’s gonna get what he deserves, right? Like I said yesterday, I’m not here to tell the fans to get here early,” Cora said pregame on Friday. “But it will be nice to have a packed house and first at-bat and do what we’re supposed to do, right? … That first at-bat is going to be something that he will remember forever.

“Everything he did here. He was outstanding. He did it with class. He was really good for us on the field. He was really good for us off the field.”

Ultimately, Betts’ first at-bat against his former team ended without much fanfare, as starter Kutter Crawford got him to pop out to first baseman Triston Casas.

In an interesting twist, the key piece that went back to Boston in the Betts trade in Alex Verdugo made the most of his first at-bat on Friday.

The Sox leadoff hitter — and former Dodger — pounced on the first fastball delivered by L.A. starter Lance Lynn, depositing it into the bullpen for a solo shot and an early lead for Boston.