Fans Unite at Fenway After Tumultuous Week

Flag Roll from Billie Weiss on Vimeo.

Nick Hansen
BU News Service

One of the most notable lyrics from the unofficial Boston Red Sox anthem, “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond, is “good times never seemed so good.” That line rang especially true on a cool Saturday afternoon in Fenway Park. Red Sox fans were happy to be watching baseball back at their home stadium after the Boston Marathon bombing on Monday, which killed three people and injured over a hundred more and resulted in a manhunt that brought the entire metro area to a standstill on Friday.

The day was an emotional release, an opportunity for remembrance and to say thanks, and a symbol that things were returning to normal in Boston.

“We need our routine back,” said Sarah Carroll, a Red Sox Foundation volunteer who was wearing a Boston Marathon volunteer jacket and collecting donations for Mayor Menino’s One Fund on Yawkey Way plaza prior to the game. Carroll had also volunteered for the Marathon handing out medals to finishers.

“It kind of gives you the chills, but it’s also invigorating,” she said, describing Saturday’s atmosphere.

The logo “B Strong” spread across the park, appearing on posters handed out before the game, on hats, and on a new sign displayed proudly on the Green Monster.

The Red Sox paid tribute to the first responders, marathon volunteers, and those affected by this week’s events in an emotional pre-game ceremony that featured an appearance by Governor Deval Patrick.

“Today we gather as one and we affirm to ourselves and to each other that we are one: one community, one nation, one world, full of love, full of compassion, and full of generosity,” said the Red Sox public address announcer. “We will run another Marathon. It will be bigger and better than ever,” he said.

Three people who were affected by Monday’s events threw ceremonial first pitches: Matt Patterson, a firefighter from Lynn, Massachusetts, who saved multiple lives after hearing the blast from a restaurant where he was eating with friends; Steven Byrne, a spectator from Lowell who was severely injured by shrapnel while watching the race near the finish line; and Dick and Rick Hoyt, the father-son tandem who have taken part in 31 marathons. Dick rolled his son onto the field in his wheelchair.

During an a cappella rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, which was announced as a new Boston tradition, volunteers unfurled a giant American flag over the Green Monster wall in left field. Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz finished the ceremony by thanking Governor Patrick, Mayor Menino, and members of the police. “This is our [expletive] city and nobody gonna dictate us with it,” said Ortiz to a cheering crowd.

Fans were not deterred by the increased security presence at the game. Many happily welcomed the uniformed officers, and fans gave fist bumps and handshakes to many of the Boston police officers at the game as a few officers posed for pictures with fans.

Many people relished the opportunity to come to the park.

“There is literally no other place I’d be on this earth rather than right here at Fenway,” said Michael Walters Young, a twenty-something Brighton resident originally from Lawrence, Kan. Michael said he usually favored the visiting Kansas City Royals. He wore a powder blue Royals T-Shirt and a Red Sox hat with a blue and yellow ribbon, a symbol of the Boston Marathon recovery efforts. “Normally, I’m all clad in power blue, but not after this week’s events,” he said.

Mary Bouvier, a Red Sox fan from South Portland, Maine, has been coming to games at Fenway for over 40 years and said she had never seen anything like it.

“Not even the World Series or playoff games felt like this. There is something extremely special about this game,” she said prior to entering the stadium.

The Red Sox jerseys read “Boston” instead of the usual “Red Sox” to give a sense of unity to the day, which was highlighted by an appearance from Neil Diamond, who sang Sweet Caroline in the middle of the eighth inning.

Even though the Red Sox won 4-3 after Daniel Nava hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning, the final score did not seem important to most people: some fans had other things on their minds. A tweet displayed on the jumbotron in the middle of the game simply read, “Healing at Fenway.”

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