The 2013 Red Sox showed that no one messes with Boston, and that is still true ten years after the tragedy.
Today is Patriots Day, and the Boston Red Sox are playing on a Monday morning, as is tradition. But while the team annually celebrates Massachusetts and the American Revolution, this year carries extra weight. Saturday, April 15, marked the 10th anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombing where three people were murdered near the finish line. Later that week, the two guilty brothers also killed a police officer.
The Red Sox organization was as shocked and heartbroken as the rest of the region and country. But as we know sports is capable of doing, the BoSox brought hope back in the aftermath of unthinkable tragedy. The 2013 team did not just win the World Series, they carried a city on their backs and declared that Boston will always come back stronger than ever before.
How the Red Sox Responded
Before the bombing, the Red Sox had celebrated Patriots Day in the best way possible, by hitting a walk off. They completed a sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays and headed to the airport. The team took off as news was breaking and just before authorities closed down the airport.
As a prominent part of Boston culture, the Red Sox were inherently folded into the city’s rallying cry. “Boston Strong” quickly became the motto of recovery, and the logo making waves used the Red Sox font for the letter “B”. The team dealt with the same raw emotions as the rest of us but still took the field to face the Cleveland Indians for three games. Playing with their hearts on their sleeves, they also swept that series before returning home. Unfortunately, the Boston area was in a total lockdown on Friday, April 19, while police searched for the two terrorists. The Red Sox game was obviously postponed, and they played a double header on Sunday.
The Sox played a 1 pm game on Saturday, April 20 against the Kansas City Royals and held a commemorative ceremony beforehand. The home uniforms said “BOSTON” across the front instead of the team name, because who they were playing for had changed. A number of people spoke, but by far the most memorable was DH David Ortiz’s speech. One of the longest tenured players and a fan favorite by that point, Big Papi addressed the crowd. He had a few prepared lines, but the meaningful part came to him in the moment:
The Boston Marathon bombing occurred ten years ago today. One of the city’s most tragic and senseless events turned into a time of resilience and community.
David Ortiz’s speech will live on forever.pic.twitter.com/n4lSnMEVJQ
— Boston Sports Gordo (@BOSSportsGordo) April 15, 2023
The confident assurance declared that no one messes with Boston, and the city would be able to move forward. Ortiz was already a beloved superstar on the field for bringing a title back after 86 years, but he became a cultural touchstone intertwined with the triumphant spirit of his adopted home.
The Red Sox proceeded to win that day and kept winning all season long. They finished with a record of 97-65, won the AL East, and battled their way to an ineffable championship. In a year when observers counted them out, the Red Sox had the extra motivation of playing for a community rather than just playing for a team.
Eight years later, with the addition of Nike City Connect Jerseys, the Red Sox decided to honor the Boston Marathon by wearing yellow with light blue trim. They still wear the alternates today, especially during this weekend.
“There’s been some kind of bombing at the marathon.”
I was in seventh grade when tragedy struck. There was only one other student and the teacher sitting in office hours, a time when most kids laze around instead of doing homework. It is safe to say none of us did work after 2:49 pm that day. Anxious fretting ensued: we asked endless questions, searched for any updates, called our parents.
How does a 13-year-old deal with an unforeseen attack? I hugged my family and sat glued to the television because those were the only things to do. Watching highlights from that morning’s Red Sox game was unsettling. The players were joyously celebrating a Gatorade bath mere minutes before the world changed for the worse.
There was school Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, but for the life of me, I could not tell you anything we did that week. My best guess would be an assembly followed by breakout groups followed by “regular” classes where no one could focus on pre-Algebra or the past imperfect tense.
I woke up on my own Friday morning and immediately knew something was off. If my mom didn’t wake me, then there must be no school. A snow day in April possible in Massachusetts but extremely unlikely. The reality was much worse: the whole area was locked down while public enemies #1 and #2 were on the loose. That evening brought even more screen time where meaningful updates popped up every hour or two but studios filled the rest of their airtime with speculation.
With the successful captures, we could all take an uneasy sigh of relief. The Red Sox were back in town the following day, and that was a must-watch game, even more so than Opening Day. Going to a religious school my whole life, hearing an athlete swear on live TV was the most satisfying feeling. It was a mix of childish disbelief and mature appreciation for Ortiz said exactly what we all needed to hear.
Similar to C Mike Piazza’s home run after 9/11 and Steve Gleason’s blocked punt after Katrina, Ortiz and the Red Sox showed that we still have reason to celebrate. Boston would come back stronger than before, and it did.
“This is our f***ing city, and nobody gonna dictate our freedom.”