David Ortiz brought the crowd to a roar. Not with a mammoth home run, or a walkoff base hit. Before his first game this season, Ortiz took the microphone at the end of an emotional pregame ceremony to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy and bellowed “This is our (expletive) city, and nobody is going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong.”
Ortiz started his comments by saying “This jersey that we wear today, it doesn’t say Red Sox. It says Boston. We want to thank you Mayor Menino, Governor Patrick, the whole police department for the great job they did this past week. “
It was a climactic end to an incredibly emotional ceremony. It started with a video montage of the events at Monday’s Boston Marathon accompanied by the song Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley, and captured the emotions of the participants and painfully emotional reactions by the crowd to the aftermath on the bombing. It then showed images of police efforts to find the bombing suspects and the final scene of capturing the suspect in Watertown.
For the national anthem, organ music began the song, but like at the Bruins’ game on Wednesday and again Saturday, fans took over and finished it.
The big theme was resilience of Boston’s people, as expressed with the tremendous oratory skills of Henry Mahegan, who announced the event.
Represented were officers from the Boston police department and Marathon volunteers, who came out of the center field area and lined up along the Green Monster.
The Sox paid tribute to Matt Patterson, an off-duty firefighter who was having dinner at Abe and Louie’s restaurant when he heard the blast and sprung into action, leaving the restaurant and immediately saved the life of a young boy.
There was survivor Steven Byrne, who showed scars on his face and a limp in his step after being hit with debris from the explosion and underwent surgery.
And there was a huge ovation for Boston Marathon wheelchair participants Dick and Rick Hoyt.
Sox players, sporting a B Strong emblem on their jerseys, shook the hands of the victims, the responders and police officers.
It was punctuated by Ortiz’ memorable and poignant statement.