Papi, Gomes expect emotional Patriots Day
Red Sox remember victims of last year's Boston Marathon bombings
BOSTON -- As it has been for most of the week throughout the Greater Boston area, this weekend will be an emotional time for many remembering the anniversary of the tragedies of last year's Boston Marathon and the events that followed.
Fenway Park will be no different.
Patriots Day -- Marathon Monday -- is a uniquely Massachusetts day. The third Monday in April, it celebrates the commonwealth's history with visitors from around the world.
"I think we should keep on celebrating it, the way we have through the years," said Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz. "I know a lot of memories are going to be brought back to the table. … But I think Patriots' Day is one of the most beautiful days around here. And I think we should keep it the same way, especially now."
The Red Sox wanted to help the city to heal in the aftermath of the tragedy.
"To tell you the truth, you've seen what all the civilians have done, the doctors, fire fighters, police department, those are the heroes," said outfielder Jonny Gomes. "We kind of went coattails on the city and how they rallied around the city.
"We just did our job. Granted, it did end in a fairy tale ending, winning the World Series. But what this team means to the city and what this city means to us and the tragedy that did happen, I don't want to hang a win-loss record on how much we cared about the city and how much we embraced the 'Boston Strong.'"
Gomes and Ortiz somewhat became the faces of the team in dealing with the tragedy. Many remember Ortiz's colorful speech on April 20, 2013, before the Sox's first game at Fenway after the bombings. It was one of the most nervous times he can remember.
"It wasn't just being nervous," Ortiz said. "I was scared because how wonderful this country is and the security of this county gives to every single citizen. It was no sport involved, no media, no superhero. It was us, as a citizen, as a human being. Seeing the way everything was going down. But the best thing that I can tell you about everything is the way everybody got together, the way everybody fought back. I think that was one of the most amazing, unbelievable experiences that I have had."
Gomes feels a certain responsibility to those affected by the tragedies.
"I think there's certain characteristics and chores that you have to have, if you will, to be a professional athlete," Gomes said. "I've dealt with some adversity in my life in different ways. Some of the questions and some of the answers I was reaching for at the time, I don't think I have the answers for now, but I think had some experience with kind of cushioning the fall, if you will, with what some of these people are going through.
"That's kind of how I'm wired and what I stand for: winning, team, family, and of course, the city that we play in. Who are we without the fans? Where is this game without the fans? So it was pretty organic and easy to tell you the truth to reach out to the people."
Gomes, along with former Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, set the World Series trophy down on the Marathon finish line during the team's celebratory parade. For Gomes, the act was more than just symbolic in the healing process.
"That [bombing] is now Boston history and U.S. history," Gomes said. "But to be able to put somewhat of a Band-Aid and somewhat of a 360[-degree] mindset of that area was extremely important for the team and the city. When you walk down to that finish line, you recognize that finish line as where the trophy was set not where the bomb was set. So I think that was pretty cool that we were able to do that so fast."
For the Red Sox, as for just about everyone, Monday will be bittersweet.
"I think it's going to be very emotional," Ortiz said. "But it's going to be happiness around, too, more than sadness because of the way this city bounced back."
Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.