It’s Boston’s day.
The Red Sox emerged victorious Wednesday night over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of the World Series. But the team’s win was more than just an end to a baseball game; it was a climb to the top, a triumph for a city still healing from the trauma it witnessed earlier this year. The 2013 team became a symbol of the city’s resilience, a city that was the scene of the country’s earliest rebellion and found solace as Boston Strong, a community of camaraderie, baseball, and beards.
Bomb explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon took the lives of three individuals and wounded at least 260 more than six months ago on April 15. Shaken and saddened, the small city moved forward urged on by politicians, religious leaders, and a veteran leader of the city’s beloved baseball team.
Boston’s Prudential Tower lit its offices in an arrangement that read “GO SOX” during the game. And the Fenway groundskeepers mowed a massive “B Strong” logo into the outfield of the country’s oldest Major League Baseball park still in use–a two-word motto that emerged after the bombings as a symbol of the residents’ grit and determination to shake off the horror of that April day.
Sox slugger David Ortiz, or Big Papi, received the World Series Most Valuable Player Award knocking out 11 hits. But he represents more than that; he is the city’s unofficial prophet. The Sox returned to Fenway Park the weekend following the bombing and honored not only the victims, but the first responders and officials who helped capture alleged bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the backyard of a Watertown, Mass., home. Ortiz told the audience during a pre-game speech: “This is our f–ing city and nobody is going to dictate our freedom.” Even the FCC Chair Julius Genachowski felt moved to praise the Sox slugger’s heartfelt f-bomb, saying he “spoke from the heart.”
Typical of his role, Ortiz dedicated his award Wednesday night to Boston and the thousands of people—from the East to West coasts—who call the city home.
“First of all, I want to say, ‘This is for you, Boston. You guys deserve it. You’ve been through a lot this year. And this is for all of you and all those families who struggled after the bombings earlier this year. This is for all of you,’” said Ortiz, who has won three World Series titles in a decade.
Hundreds of fans rioted in Boston streets after the victorious win at Fenway, where the team hadn’t won a World Series game in almost 50 years. Just hours later, though, people gathered near the blue and yellow strip that marks the world-famous marathon finish line to honor the lives and efforts sacrificed that tragic April morning.
Jeff Bauman, who lost both of his legs in the twin blasts, threw out the ceremonial first pitch during a game in May. His rescuer, Carlos Arredondo, escorted him to the mound in a wheelchair and also threw out a pitch before the start of the game.
The win was also a comeback for a team that ranked in last place at the end of the 2012 season. This week the Sox became the second baseball team in history after the Minnesota Twins to go from worst to first.
As the players celebrate their triumph, many runners and spectators who were wounded at the finish line continue to receive outpatient care and physical therapy. But the fans’ bond will help them overcome their struggles because Boston is the “biggest small city in America,” Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen said Thursday on Morning Joe.
“I absolutely believe that this team’s success sprung from what happened in April, and that they felt a certain responsibility to play,” Cullen said. “Our teams—what they do and the way we respond to them—is a communal act, and it’s part of the healing process.”
Sox players likely will ride in the city’s Duck Boats on Saturday in a celebratory parade typical of how Boston celebrates its sports victories.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino joined a swell of social media outpouring for the team and city late Wednesday into Thursday morning where “Boston Strong” trended on Twitter and Facebook. The mayor tweeted: “Get the ducks ready, we’re having a parade!”
“This year’s team,” MSNBC contributor Mike Barnicle said, “is sort of like you got something at Christmas that you never expected to get.”