How many of you ever heard of “shelter in place” before Friday?
Not me. Not until I heard it on television. Not until I saw the phrase scrolling on the streamer beneath the unbelievable stories that were unfolding on just about every channel all day.
This was stay-at-home Friday at the end of one of the dark weeks in Boston history. We woke up and were told not to go out of the house. We were told not to open our doors. And once again, our friends called, e-mailed, and texted from around the globe.
Naturally, this meant the games could not be played. No Red Sox unveiling “B Strong” on the left-field wall at Fenway while Clay Buchholz took the mound and tried to extend the winning streak to seven games. No Rene Rancourt leading another Garden sellout in an a cappella rendition of the anthem while we wondered whether Milan Lucic would be benched. Not with a massive manhunt underway.
We know our place. The games are entertainment. The games are a diversion. It’s where we get away from real life. This week, more than any week, reality stopped the games. Running came to a halt. Ballplaying stopped. The Bruins postponed their game Monday night game while smoke cleared from Boylston Street. The Celtics canceled their Tuesday game with the Indiana Pacers.
In those first hours after Monday’s Marathon bombings, we were heartened by demonstrations of support from around the world of sports. At Emirates Stadium in north London, there was a moment of silence for Boston before an English Premier League soccer game. At Miller Park in Milwaukee, they played the theme from “Cheers” during the famed sausage race during the Brewers-Giants game. A Phoenix Coyote stenciled “pray for Boston” on his skates. A Philadelphia Phillie wrote the same thing on his mitt.
We felt the love, even from places where we are traditionally hated. Canadiens bosses dimmed the lights and held a moment of silence for Boston at the Bell Centre in Montreal. The facade outside Yankee Stadium featured a message board with “United We Stand” bookended by Yankee and Red Sox logos. Yankee fans stood and sang “Sweet Caroline” after the third inning.
In Cleveland, the Red Sox hung a “Boston Strong 617” jersey in their dugout. Players from the Sox, Bruins, Celtics, and Patriots tweeted and reminded terrorists that they had messed with the wrong city.
We created our own positive energy Wednesday night on Causeway Street. Everyone who was at the Garden, and folks watching on television, will remember the collective anthem and postgame stick salutes from players on both teams while fans chanted, “U-S-A!”
Then President Obama came to Boston, and even the leader of the free world brought it back to sports.
“Like Bill Iffrig, 78 years old, the runner in the orange tank top who we all saw get knocked down by the blast, we may be momentarily knocked off our feet,’’ said the Commander-in-Chief. “But we’ll pick ourselves up. We’re going to keep going. We will finish the race.
“We come together to celebrate life and to walk our cities and to cheer for our teams when the Red Sox, the Celtics, the Patriots, or Bruins are champions again — to the chagrin of New York and Chicago fans.’’
We were a little full of bluster and bravado after that. I went over to Fenway Park and saw Dr. Charles Steinberg, the maestro of message, working on a tasteful pregame ceremony for Friday night’s return to baseball. “B Strong” was all over Fenway. It was going to be a great night at the 101-year-old ballyard.
And then all the good feeling went away. We woke up to armored vehicles in the nearby neighborhoods and Black Hawk helicopters hovering in the airspace where news choppers show video of the Head of the Charles Regatta.
The day bled out. We learned that one suspect, killed in a gunfight with police, had been a boxer. We learned that his brother — captured Friday night during the massive manhunt that shut down Boston — was captain of the wrestling team at Cambridge Rindge and Latin. We learned that the young policeman who was slain late Thursday was the brother of a Hendricks Motorsports racing team member, and a volunteer at the Somerville Boxing Club.
Finally, just after 8:40 p.m., we learned that suspect No. 2 was in custody. It felt like a victory at the end of a day with no games. It was some justice for the victims; a victory of patience and vigilance.
“The people of Boston refuse to be intimidated,’’ the president said late Friday night.
Let the games resume.