Over the course of a 162-game season, on top of over a month of spring training, there is going to be a moment that defines a team, possibly bringing it closer together, or in some cases further apart.
For the 2013 AL East Champion Red Sox their moment was unlike any one on the team had ever experienced, nor could ever have prepared for.
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“To me, when we stood on the foul line [in Cleveland] the day after the [Boston Marathon bombing], and when we saw some of the personalities come out in some of the guys,” manager John Farrell said. “That moment was an opportunity for us to see how our guys would respond to something that was a tragedy, and we used it not only as an opportunity to help a city heal, but it was also a galvanizing moment for our guys and something clearly we won’t forget.”
The Red Sox were on their way to Logan Airport following their annual 11 a.m. Marathon day game where they defeated the Rays 3-2 when the bombs went off and tragedy struck Boston. Once they arrived in Cleveland they had a team dinner where reportedly 22 of the 25 players attended. It was at this gathering the team came together, discussed what had happened and how they could help the city heal.
One of the things they did was have a Red Sox jersey hang in the dugout with the words “Boston Strong” and No. 617 (Boston’s area code) on the back. This would serve as a symbol for the team and city in the healing process. The team also gave the city a chance to get away from what happened and take in a baseball game for a few hours.
They swept the three-game series in Cleveland and then came home and played at Fenway the day after the suspects were caught in what was a truly emotional pregame ceremony carrying over into the game where Daniel Nava hit a clutch, two-run home run in the eighth inning, giving the Sox a 4-3 win over the Royals.
It was from then on that the team never looked back, taking a firm grip on the city, playing inspiring baseball for the entire season where they won fans over after a disastrous 2012 season, ultimately cultivating with their first AL East championship since 2007. If their inspirational season didn’t get everyone in the city on board, there is still time as the postseason is right around the corner.
"There's still room on the bandwagon if people want to jump on,” said outfielder Jonny Gomes.
Follow Metro Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @Hannable84