A year to the date that the Red Sox celebrated Fenway Park’s 100th birthday, the Fenway Faithful participated in a different kind of pre-game ceremony. A ceremony that was a combination memorial service/tribute to remember and honor the fallen and acknowledge the heroic efforts of law enforcement, first responders and simple citizens; all of whom played their parts in caring for and treating the wounded and in apprehending the faceless cowards responsible for their acts of terror.
As the city’s secular cathedral, Fenway Park became the chosen venue in which the community paused, mourned, honored and remembered taking the city’s, indeed the region’s, official collective first step toward healing.
In times of turmoil and crisis, we turn to traditions and rituals to emote, to process, to grieve and to heal. There is no other sport that is more steeped in tradition than baseball and there is no other city which surpasses Boston nor is more steeped in their baseball team. So to borrow the words of the Great Emancipator, ‘it is all together fitting and proper that we should do this”.
There were prayers for young lives stolen…..
Martin Richard, Sean Collier, Lu Lingzi and Krystle Campbell.
There was acknowledgement of heroic acts of compassion and courage,
Steven Byrne who was wounded shielding others from the blast, waves to the crowd. He had just been released from the hospital.
There were expressions of gratitude.
And there was of course, traditions; some old, some new, some old with a new twist.
First there was the uniforms.
The traditional Red Sox on the front of the home jerseys was changed to Boston with the Boston Strong patch displayed over the heart!
The symbol of the city’s determination and strength was emblazoned on the Green Monster where I suspect it will be for a long time, like maybe forever.
There appeared the embodiment of determination which is indicative of the Marathon and the city.
Dick Hoyt (with his son Richard) shakes hands with Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis. Dick has run 31 Boston Marathons pushing Richard in his wheelchair. Monday was to be his last, however because of the bombing he was unable to finish. Next year he will run again in honor and memory of this years victims.
Seventy-two year old Neil Diamond showed up to lead the “Faithful” in Sweet Caroline, bringing with him “love from all over the country”.
And as for the game? Well the script could not have been written better in Hollywood.
Daniel Nava celebrates at home with Johnny Gomes (5) following his three run homer in the eighth.
A kid who didn’t make his college team and became the manager just so he could be around the team and practice.
A kid who, in 2007, was signed by the Red Sox after playing for the Chico Bandits in California’s independent Golden Baseball League which had been formed just two years earlier.
A kid whose signing bonus was one American dollar!
A kid who, in his first major league at bat, on the first pitch he ever saw, hit a grand slam home run into the Red Sox bullpen off Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton.
A kid who came to bat in the bottom of the eighth inning on the 101st birthday of Fenway Park with his team losing 2-1 and blasted a three run homer into that same bullpen, propelling his team, his city to victory!
A kid who now has woven himself forevermore into the patchwork quilt of Boston, the Red Sox and Fenway Park history.
So on Saturday April 20, 2013, the city of Boston took a step forward, a step toward healing. The lives of Martin Richard, Sean Collier, Lu Lingzi and Krystle Campbell will now be incorporated into the tradition that is the Boston Marathon. And their names will, with Daniel Nava’s be forevermore woven into that same patchwork quilt of Boston, the Red Sox and Fenway Park history!
You are and will forever remain a part of us!
Martin Richard, Sean Collier, Lu Lingzi and Krystle Campbell