The MLBPA, MLB and Red Sox yesterday announced a combined donation of $600,000 to the victims of last week's Boston Marathon bombings, with the MLB and MLBPA combining for $500,000 and the Red Sox adding $100,000. MLB will encourage fans to donate to The One Fund Boston throughout all national telecasts on Fox, MLB Network, ESPN and TBS and will promote charity signage behind home plate. MLB.com, RedSox.com and MLBPlayers.com also will be promoting the fund. Additionally, MLB licensee Brand 47 has produced caps featuring the B Strong Logo with the Red Sox' stylized B. All proceeds from cap sales will go to The One Fund Boston (MLBPA). MLB.com's Jason Mastrodonato reports as of last night, $300,000 "had already been raised via hat sales" (MLB.com, 4/22). ESPN BOSTON's Joe McDonald noted as a "result of contributions made by fans at Fenway Park this weekend," the Red Sox Foundation pulled in $46,500. In "addition to the donations, the Red Sox, MLB and MLBPA will continue to raise funds" (ESPNBOSTON.com, 4/21). In Boston, Michael Silverman notes Red Sox LF Jonny Gomes played with a "custom-made bat engraved with the names of the four victims and 'Boston Strong.'" Gomes has four bats and will "eventually auction them all off" (BOSTON HERALD, 4/22).
RECOVERY EFFORT: In Boston, Peter Schworm wrote the Red Sox' first home game since the bombings on Saturday against the Royals "felt like a new beginning, and some fans spoke of a burden lifted." Many fans "went out of their way to thank law enforcement personnel." In a "moving pregame ceremony, the fans sang the national anthem together, their voices rising as one." Before the anthem, fans "stood and cheered as a video montage, set to the song 'Hallelujah,' showed a series of vivid images from recent days, from the scene at the bombings" to the capture of the second bombing suspect in Watertown, Mass. Red Sox DH David Ortiz before the game "declared defiantly that this 'is our (expletive) city, and nobody is going to dictate our freedom.'" The FCC in a tweet said that it "forgave Ortiz for letting the expletive fly, noting that the slugger 'spoke from the heart'" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/21). Also in Boston, Schweitzer & Allen noted law enforcement officials at the game were "treated like royalty as fans expressed their gratitude" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/21). The BOSTON HERALD's Silverman wrote the "recovery has begun. And baseball, once again, is helping with the healing" (BOSTON HERALD, 4/21). In Boston, Evelyn Lau wrote the game Saturday was about "honoring victims and paying tributes to heroes." But it was "mostly about feeling normal again" (BOSTON HERALD, 4/21).
EMOTIONAL DAY: In Boston, Julian Benbow wrote, "Looking out at the faces in the crowd, people who had come to Fenway Park to escape, to celebrate, and recapture some of the normalcy they had lost, David Ortiz felt what they were feeling." Ortiz said, "I don’t think there was one human being who wasn’t affected by what we got going on down here. This past week for me, myself, I was very emotional and angry about the whole situation and got to get that out of my chest and make sure our fans and everyone in the nation knows that this is a great nation and part of it was supporting each other when everything went down.” At the end of the ceremony, Ortiz’s microphone was "hot and his words were clear." Ortiz later apologized "for the swear, but not the sentiment." But in the "wake of incomprehensible terror, the words were forceful, defiant, and proud." Marathon volunteers "lined the Green Monster in front of an American flag as wide as the 231-foot long wall." The Royals and Red Sox stood "shoulder to shoulder along the foul lines." Red Sox P Andrew Bailey said, “Guys were fighting back tears on the line. I’ve never been a part of something like that.” Security for the game was "heightened," as earlier in the day police dogs "checked the ballpark." Officers in bright yellow jackets "seemed to be at every turn" and fans were "wanded down at the entrances." It took a 7:30am ET flight for Neil Diamond to "make it to Boston" from L.A. Then, he "called into the main Fenway Park switchboard and asked if he could sing 'Sweet Caroline'" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/21).
MAKING HIS POINT: The BOSTON HERALD's Silverman wrote Ortiz' message was "loud, clear and justifiably profane." When the Red Sox "returned to action after canceling Friday night’s game, they began the restoration of normalcy to a town that desperately needs some of that." Ortiz speaks "excellent English and has never been shy about showing off his mastery of some of its saltiest words," but he usually "waits, though, until the microphones and cameras are off." But Saturday "was different." Ortiz: "If I offended anybody, I apologize, but I feel like this town needs to be pumped, it seems like that was it" (BOSTON HERALD, 4/21). ESPN BOSTON's Gordon Edes wrote though Ortiz apologized, he "needn't have been too concerned, judging by the roar that greeted his F-bomb" (ESPNBOSTON.com, 4/21). In Hartford, Jeff Jacobs writes Ortiz "grabbed an old town," and "lifted it up" (HARTFORD COURANT, 4/22). ESPN's Buster Olney said he “thought it was so cool” that FCC Chair Julius Genachowski tweeted his support of Ortiz and the city of Boston. Olney: “The head of the FCC gets it, everybody gets it. What an important day in Red Sox history.” ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian added, “They’ve already made T-shirts with what Big Papi said (Saturday). My guess is it’s going to be a big seller” (“Baseball Tonight,” ESPN, 4/21). To see how the networks handled Ortiz’ profanity, see Weekend Rap.
CHANGING THINGS UP: ESPN BOSTON's Edes noted the Red Sox on Saturday wore white jerseys with "Boston" across the front, something they have not worn "at home on a regular basis in more than a century, not since 1911." But following the bombings, Red Sox front-office execs "huddled with MLB, which approved the plan to wear the jerseys when the team returned home from Cleveland." A "rush order went out to the Majestic factory in Easton, Pa." Red Sox Equipment Manager Tom McLaughlin said, "We gave them a roster of who was going to be here, it must have been Wednesday. They hammered them out on Wednesday and Thursday; they did all the lettering and embroidering" (ESPNBOSTON.com, 4/21). Red Sox President & CEO Larry Lucchino said that the uniforms that the Red Sox wore Saturday will be "auctioned off within the next couple of days to keep the donations flowing." Lucchino: "As far as we know, that's the first time in the 113-year history of the Red Sox they've worn white uniforms that say Boston on the front. They have been signed and will be auctioned off" (MLB.com, 4/22).
LENDING A HAND: In Boston, Nancy Marrapese-Burrell wrote fans for the Penguins-Bruins game Saturday at TD Garden were "passionate once again, the appreciation for the first responders even greater as a result of Friday’s intense manhunt." During warm-ups, Bruins players "wore baseball caps instead of helmets, with logos representing the Boston, Watertown, and Massachusetts State police departments." Bruins LW Brad Marchand said, "With the ceremony and all the police and firemen in the building, it was a special time again. It was a little more of a celebration with everyone here tonight. It was more of an opportunity for us to thank them and to give our respects for the amazing job they did with taking [the suspect] into custody and cleaning up the streets." The Penguins "graciously agreed to wear Boston Strong shirts and hats before the game" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/21). In Toronto, Joe Warmington wrote the Bruins and Red Sox "offered classy tributes" (TORONTO SUN, 4/21). In Miami, George Richards noted the NHL Panthers in yesterday's game against the Bruins "wore specially made '617' decals on their helmets to honor the victims and first responders" to the bombings (MIAMIHERALD.com, 4/21). In Boston, Gayle Fee notes the Celtics Shamrock Foundation will "donate $200,000 to The One Fund and has partnered with" adidas to created Boston Stands As One T-shirts (BOSTON HERALD, 4/22).