THE BOSTON Red Sox think their lyric little bandbox deserves a great big birthday party.
The ballclub will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park's first game next season with a yearlong celebration that will be heavy on history and filled with special events to usher the oldest ballpark in major league history into its second century.
"We are going to be the first to do that and, pardon me, but we are going to do it in a major, big-time way," Red Sox president and chief executive officer Larry Lucchino said yesterday. "This is an important year for us."
The actual anniversary will be observed on April 20, 2012, with a 3:05 p.m. game against the New York Yankees - a repeat of the afternoon game the Red Sox played against the Yankees' precursor, the Highlanders, on that date in 1912. The opener - the same week the Titanic sank - was twice delayed by rainouts.
(The actual first baseball game at Fenway was an exhibition against Harvard. Vice president Sam Kennedy said the school has arranged for representatives to come to the ballpark on April 9, when the Red Sox will be playing in Toronto, for a workout or exhibition to be determined.)
The schedule was laid out at a news conference in a club suite as the ballpark was decked out for Christmas, with giant wreaths hanging from the Green Monster. Artifacts from Fenway's history were on display, as were items featuring the Fenway 100 logo that have been available for purchase this winter.
The Red Sox also announced a charitable campaign called "100 Acts of Kindness," which will involve donations, volunteer efforts and community events. To start, the team donated a copy of its new coffee table book, "Fenway Park: 100 Years" to each branch of the Boston Public Library and to the libraries of all 125 schools in the Boston Public School system.
The Milwaukee Brewers agreed to terms with free-agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez. Agent Eric Goldschmidt confirmed the deal is for 1 year with a vesting option.
The 34-year-old Gonzalez played 149 games for Atlanta last season, hitting .241 with 15 home runs and 56 RBI. He committed 12 errors.
* Authorities in Los Angeles are awaiting the results of a blood test on Dodgers first baseman James Loney, who was arrested last month on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.
California Highway Patrol spokesman Leland Tang said the 27-year-old athlete was arrested Nov. 14 after his 2009 Maserati hit three cars on a Los Angeles freeway.
In other Dodgers news, free-agent pitcher Aaron Harang agreed to a $12 million, 2-year contract. The 33-year-old righthander was 14-7 with a career-low 3.64 ERA for San Diego last season.
* Jeff Luhnow was introduced as Houston's general manager, replacing the fired Ed Wade after after major league worst 56-106 season. Luhnow was a vice president with St. Louis last season.
Luhnow wouldn't give a timeframe for when he thinks the Astros will be able to contend. But he did say that "it's going to be a challenge and it's going to be years."
In other Astros news, the team made righthander Rhiner Cruz the top pick in the Rule 5 draft. Cruz was a combined 5-3 with seven saves in Class A and Double A for the New York Mets in 2011.
* Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish ended months of speculation by saying he intends to make a move to Major League Baseball.