Joy, relief, mourning mix at Fenway

April, 20, 2013
4/20/13
1:09
PM ET
BOSTON -- The city's professional baseball team took the field Saturday in their home whites not with the familiar "Red Sox" stitched across the front, but with one word: "Boston."

On the Green Monster in left-center field, directly under a light stanchion, a new sign had been painted: within a white circle, the iconic "B" logo, with the word "strong" printed in bold white lettering. The logo also occupied a spot over the heart on the jerseys worn by both teams at Fenway Park, the Boston Red Sox and Kansas City Royals.

Baseball resumed on Yawkey Way on Saturday afternoon, the 16th game on the 2013 Red Sox schedule but the first played after a terrorist attack in Boston, five days after two bombs exploded less than a mile from here, permanently altering the landscape of this city, this state, this country.

The Sox arrived back home in the early hours of Friday morning, but the game they were scheduled to play Friday night was postponed, the city remaining on high alert until law enforcement authorities successfully apprehended the second of two suspects wanted in the bombings that shattered the tranquility of Patriots Day in Boston.

Like so many in this town and across the world, Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino watched the capture take place in Watertown on Friday night, the exhilaration that replaced the fear on city streets, and the public display of appreciation for those who had taken part in the massive effort to restore calm.

"Watching those claps and cheers," Victorino said, "and now to take the field in front of those same people and fans, to see the joyfulness and happiness brought out, that makes today a special day for me.

"But not only for me, the city. We honor them. We are athletes who take the field, but we honor the city, we honor the fans, we honor the people, the law enforcement, we honor the lives who were lost and those who continue to battle in hospitals. We wish them a speedy recovery."

In pregame ceremonies intended to be low-key in tone, the Sox planned to observe a moment of silence for the victims of Monday's bombings and the campus police officer killed Thursday night. They also honored the first responders who at considerable personal risk came to the aid of the hundreds hurt in Monday's blast, as well as those who in four days' time identified and apprehended the brothers suspected of being responsible.

Red Sox manager John Farrell said he had stayed up until 5 a.m. Friday after the team's return from Cleveland, watching coverage of the shootout that took place as the team made its way home. He and his coaching staff and about 10 players were in the clubhouse Friday afternoon at Fenway, which had already been swept twice for explosives by a private security firm since Monday's bombings, according to chief operating officer Sam Kennedy, and was scheduled to undergo another sweep this weekend.

Postponing Friday's game (which was rescheduled for Sunday night as part of a day-night doubleheader) was appropriate under the circumstances, Farrell said, but he welcomed the opportunity to manage a ballgame Saturday, his first this season with David Ortiz in the lineup. Ortiz was activated off the disabled list.

"The opportunity to get back on the field and focus on the things our guys know best," Farrell said. "And to the public, the fans, hopefully some symbol of normalcy and, when we're between the lines, some diversion."

He noted the public outpouring of emotion at Wednesday night's Bruins game, when celebrated anthem singer Rene Rancourt dropped his microphone after the first few bars and allowed the crowd to belt out the rest of the song.

"When we look back at what transpired at the Garden," Farrell said, "this is another opportunity for everyone in the city to come together and show that kind of strength."

The events of this week, he said, has for him formed an impression of Boston as a place that is "very resilient, very tough-minded.

"When there is a concerted effort to show support in some form or fashion," he said, "what comes out is not only remarkable. I think everyone takes pride in being part of Boston in a time of need. The giving, the sacrifice that so many people will make really makes a very strong statement."

Victorino was one of the players who came to the ballpark on Friday. As he drove through the empty streets of the city, it felt, he said, like being in a movie. The night before the Marathon, he and his wife, Melissa, had dinner on Boylston Street and shared a cup of coffee at the Starbucks close to the bomb site. His mother had called from Hawaii the day after, saying how on her visit to Boston that had ended just days before, she had just walked those same streets with the Victorinos' baby boy.

His mother cried, Victorino said, thinking about how fortunate they were that no one in their family had been harmed, and in sorrow for all those who had been harmed.

"Understand," Victorino said, ticking off the names of those who died, "the Richard family, the Campbell family, the girl from China [Lu Lingzi], the Collier family -- as I take the field I wear that in my heart."

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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