BOSTON (AP) — Walking back to his Fenway Park office after the traditional Patriots Day morning Red Sox game, Charles Steinberg saw the reports on TV that there had been explosions at the Boston Marathon finish line.
He saw video of the damage on Boylston Street. He heard the police say that a fire at the John F. Kennedy Library might be related. And he thought to himself, “We’re next.”
“That added to the dread,” said Steinberg, an executive vice president with the Red Sox who orchestrates many of their pregame ceremonies. “Because your thought then is that if this is a sequence of attacks on iconic Boston locales, Fenway Park could easily be next.”
The Red Sox staff quickly and obediently evacuated the ballpark, but Steinberg and his assistants soon went back to plan for the team’s return from Cleveland, where it went directly from the Monday morning game. The result was an emotional ceremony that stretched into a season-long tribute to honor the victims, doctors and nurses, police and other first-responders who were there for the explosions and their aftermath.
“I think it was a moment and time that enabled us to galvanize in a certain way,” manager John Farrell said. “It was an opportunity for our players to understand their importance to the city and what the Red Sox players mean to this region.”
With a “B Strong” logo on the Green Monster, one on their uniforms and another shaved into the Fenway grass, the Red Sox advanced to the World Series on Saturday night for the third time in 10 years. They will open at home against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night, and Steinberg is working with Major League Baseball to devise an appropriate way to honor those killed and wounded the week of the April 15 bombings.
Inside the Red Sox clubhouse, the tribute goes on.
Shane Victorino wore a “B Strong” shirt that read, “In support of all victims.” Enlarged copies of Jonny Gomes’ “Boston Strong” Sports Illustrated cover are all around. Above Mike Napoli’s locker is a patch from the Boston police, who helped apprehend suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Even before they returned from the three-day road trip, the Red Sox sent their best wishes back to Boston, posing in the visitors’ clubhouse with a “B Strong” banner; a Red Sox jersey reading “Boston Strong” with the city’s 617 area code hung in the dugout for that game.
And then, when the team returned from Cleveland, the franchise that defined baseball selfishness decades ago with the expression “25 players, 25 cabs” split into five groups of five and visited the five local hospitals where the bombing victims were being treated.