Cubs announce Opening Day festivities

Cubs announce Opening Day festivities

MESA, Ariz. -- Ron Santo Jr. will lead the crowd at Wrigley Field during the seventh-inning stretch and actor Robert Redford will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Cubs' season opener on April 1 against the Pirates.

Santo, the son of the late Cubs broadcaster and third baseman, will sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in the seventh. The Cubs players are wearing No. 10 patches on their jerseys this year in Ron Santo Sr.'s honor. He died in December at the age of 70.

Redford will throw out a ceremonial first pitch, but for the second year in a row, the Ricketts family will select a family of Cubs fans at the game to also share in the honor for the home opener.

Wayne Messmer will sing the national anthem with the national 9/11 flag on display in the outfield. The flag was destroyed in the aftermath of the collapse of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, and stitched back together seven years later by tornado survivors in Greensburg, Kan.

The Cubs also will have a pregame moment of silence in honor of those affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and will conduct a collection at the ballpark to help raise funds for UNICEF to help children affected by the disaster.

Besides honoring Santo on Opening Day and wearing the No. 10 patch, the Cubs will also pay tribute to him on Aug. 10 when the club will dedicate a statue in his honor outside Wrigley Field.

Redford will be in Chicago to support his most recent directorial effort, "The Conspirator," which opens in theatres nationwide April 15. The debut film from The American Film Company tells the true, widely unknown story of the lone woman charged in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the young union lawyer who defended her.

A lifelong baseball fan, Redford was a high school teammate of Hall of Fame pitcher Don Drysdale, and earned a baseball scholarship to the University of Colorado as a pitcher.

In the baseball classic "The Natural," Redford hit a game-winning home run in the ninth inning that shattered the scoreboard clock at Wrigley Field. The scene was actually filmed in Buffalo.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.