Red Sox CEO John Harrington, rarely seen on the field this summer, accompanied security men as a canine unit inspected the dugouts and clubhouses, and peered under the tarp rolled up along the right-field line, while other dogs searched the rest of Fenway Park.
A poster of an angry Uncle Sam was taped to the TV stand in the Sox clubhouse, bearing the message: “To Those Responsible, We’re Coming for You.”
No music was played during batting practice; instead, Rev. Peter Grover, a priest from neighboring St. Clement’s Eucharistic Shrine, rehearsed a prayer he would offer a couple of hours later, asking God to “bless our recreation that will refresh our tired spirits.”
Tiny American flags hung from every concession stand; the center field flag flew at half-staff; red, white, and blue ribbons were pinned to every usher; and huge flags were unfurled in left and right fields before the game. Thirty-thousand voices sang “America the Beautiful” during the seventh-inning stretch, while a little boy waved a sign with a big red heart that said, “Red Sox Fan, I (Love) New York.”
This was Fenway Park, Sept. 18, 2001, one week to the day after Sept. 11 was burned forever into our national psyche. There were roars for a Manny Ramirez home run, boos for Worcester native Tanyon Sturtze, the Tampa Bay pitcher, after he hit two Sox batters in the sixth inning, and “Looooouuusss” for Framingham native Lou Merloni after his two hits, two runs, and an RBI.
It was a night at the ballpark like any other night, and like no other. This was a night when celebrating the home side went far beyond rooting for the Olde Towne Team.
Here are a few small stories from that night:
Todd Angilly, the anthem singer, is the son of an Air Force veteran living in Warwick, R.I. Angilly, a student working on his master’s degree at the New England Conservatory of Music, was on the T last Tuesday morning and unaware of the terrorist attack until he arrived at school and discovered that classes had been canceled.
Angilly, who has a part-time job as a chef at Fenway Park, said he was asked Friday if he would sing “God Bless America” and the anthem here last night.
“When I mentioned that at school, somebody asked me, `Do you know the words to “God Bless America?” I just looked at him. `Of course I do,’ I said. `That’s the way I was brought up.’ “
Angilly said he fought to control his emotions during the moment of silence just before he walked out toward home plate. He had heard PA announcer Ed Brickley’s voice cracking as he described the pregame ceremonies.
But while Angilly’s baritone voice boomed steady and strong to every corner of the ballpark, he was moved by the sound of 30,000 voices joining with his.
“All you could hear was the crowd,” Angilly said. “I wasn’t the national anthem singer. I just happened to be the guy holding the microphone.”
Garry Emmons, who edits Harvard Business School’s alumni magazine, says he always has detested the Yankees.
“Three weeks ago, I prayed that anybody but the Yankees win the World Series,” said Emmons, who was here with his 13-year-old son, Nicholas. “Now I pray they win it for the people of New York.”
He was wearing pinstripes when he won a World Series, something he never did in Boston, and Wade Boggs celebrated by riding a policeman’s horse in Yankee Stadium.
“I was friends with a lot of cops,” said Boggs, now the hitting coach for Tampa Bay. “I wonder how many of them went into those buildings.”
Boggs said it gave him pause that the Devil Rays had to come here so soon after the tragedy.
“There’s nothing you can do,” he said. “You can’t cash in your chips. But you’re fearful of what could happen. When they said we were going to Boston and New York, that meant we were going to places where it all happened. Going back to New York so soon after it happened, I know it’s going to be hard to see the people’s faces when we walk around the city.”
Had he ever seen so many flags? Maybe, Tom Dunn said, after the assassination of JFK, but nothing else comes close.
Dunn, a former insurance fraud investigator, has been the visiting clubhouse attendant at Fenway since he retired from his previous line of work five years ago. As a child in New York’s Greenwich Village during World War II, he sold defense stamps, 10 cents each, at St. Veronica’s Elementary School. “The school bought a Jeep for the Army,” he said.
His parents still lived in the neighborhood, Hudson and Morton streets, when the World Trade Center was built nearly 30 years ago.
“I had many friends who worked there,” Dunn said. “My parents lived just five minutes away by taxi. I went there many times.”
Like him, Dunn said, his friends are retired, but that didn’t diminish the impact of what he saw on TV last week.
“When I saw that second plane go into the Trade Center, I started crying,” he said. “It was so emotional, the fact that it happened, and it happened in my hometown.”
He was walking through the concourse, hand in hand with his 4-year-old son, Anthony. In his other hand, he held an American flag and a banner belonging to the Ashland Fire Department that read, “Loyal to Our Duty.” His 10-year-old son, Tyler, had leaned over the dugout and gotten Merloni to sign it.
“All week, I’ve been on the edge of tears,” said Ashland Fire Lt. David Iarussi.
But no, Iarussi said, he hadn’t hesitated to bring his family here. Along with his boys, his wife, Sandy, and 13-year-old daughter, Hayley, were here, too.
“We live in America,” he said. “This is probably the most protected country in the world. We won’t be afraid to fly anywhere. We have a trip planned to Disney World in November, and we’ll still go.”
Unless, of course, history intervenes.
“All Massachusetts fire departments have been put on standby,” he said. “If New York needs us, my chief has authorized one of our three engines and five firefighters to go.”
Bitsy Hatteberg, the wife of Sox catcher Scott Hatteberg, admitted to being a “nervous wreck” while waiting for her husband’s safe return from Florida last week. Their daughter, Lauren, 3 1/2, understands that daddy takes a plane when he goes to work; for that reason, Bitsy said, the TV has been off at home until after Lauren goes to bed.
“I don’t want her to worry,” said Bitsy, who is flying home to Seattle this weekend with Lauren and her 1 1/2-year-old sister, Sophia, and is anxious about that, too.
But when she mentioned that she had a few concerns about being at the ballpark last night, the Boston Police officer sitting with the Sox family members in the grandstand gently interrupted.
“We got you covered,” he said. “You don’t have anything to worry about. We can’t go through life being afraid.”
9:46 p.m. Ben Grieve of the Devil Rays lines out to Sox right fielder Darren Lewis, and first baseman Brian Daubach thrusts his right fist into the air. Sox 7, Devil Rays 2.
The last sounds of the night? Fenway Park organist Ray Totaro, one more time, triumphantly playing, “God Bless America.”