‘Boston Strong’ theme vaults team into Series

The Associated PressOctober 22, 2013 

A “B strong” emblem adorns the Green Monster wall Monday in honor of the Boston Marathon bombing survivors. Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox is in profile. The World Series begins Wednesday.

ELISE AMENDOLA/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

BOSTON — 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.”

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 Monday as the Red Sox prepared for the World Series. “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.

Three people were killed and more than 260 wounded in the attacks; an MIT police officer was also killed in a shootout during the manhunt for suspects.

When the team returned from Cleveland, players split into five groups of five and visited the five local hospitals where the bombing victims were being treated.

“These guys were able to throw a city on its backs — follow us, we’re going to help out any way possible,” Jonny Gomes said. “I’m just so fortunate that I’m in a position where I have a profession that I can do that to people. But, at the same time, you’ve got to remember the four people that aren’t able to come to a game again and their families and their legends they left behind. We know that in the back of our head there’s four angels up above pulling for us.”

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