The Boston Red Sox made an emotional return to Fenway Park here Saturday, tapping into a mood of defiance in their first home match since the marathon bombings.
The Red Sox stars took to the field in front of a capacity crowd at the 37,000-seater baseball stadium wearing specially designed jerseys with “Boston” embroidered on the chest instead of the usual “Red Sox.”
Eight-time All-Star David Ortiz provided the rallying cry of the pre-match proceedings, which came less than 24 hours after police captured surviving bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev at the end of a tumultuous week.
Lapsing into the sort of earthy, no-nonsense vernacular that Boston prides itself for, Ortiz paid tribute to city and state officials as well as law enforcement agencies.
“This jersey that we’re wearing today it doesn’t say ‘Red Sox’. It says ‘Boston’,” Ortiz said.
“We want to thank you Mayor (Thomas) Menino, Governor (Deval) Patrick, the whole police department for the great job that they did this past week.
“This is our f(expletive) city. And nobody is going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong,” added Ortiz, to roars of approval.
The Red Sox had been due to play at Fenway on Friday but saw their game postponed on a day of drama which sent the city into lockdown as police hunted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev following an overnight gun battle which left his elder brother and a police officer dead.
Earlier, the stadium observed a hushed moment of silence for the victims of the bombings and the officer shot dead on Thursday.
Fans joined in a rousing rendition of their adopted anthem “Sweet Caroline”, with 72-year-old singer Neil Diamond leading the chorus from the field while wearing a Red Sox cap.
The crowd also united to sing the national anthem as chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A” rang out around the famous venue.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]