Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bronx Stands with Boston

Yankees Pay homage Boston
(Photos by Gary Quintal)

By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, April 17- So many ways Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium there were reminders of how sports and baseball play a role to heal wounds. This time, a day after the Boston Marathon bombing that took three lives and injured over 180, there were the Arizona Diamondbacks, Jackie Robinson and number 42, plus a Fenway Park tradition, “Sweet Caroline.”
Yes, a tune that has been an eighth inning ritual of Red Sox nation came to the Bronx. Boston was in Cleveland and the Red Sox heard what the Yankees were doing to unite two cities who have shared in pain.
“It was such a tragic day,” said Kevin Youkilis, the former Red Sox player who now wears Yankees pinstripes. He would play in the Patriots league game at Fenway over the years, and venture off to the finish line viewing another conclusion of the annual Boston Marathon.
On a day off in New York City Monday, Youkilis spent numerous hours on the phone to see if friends and family were okay that make it a ritual on Patriots Day and attend the marathon. His wife and sisters have run in the event over the years.
Monday it was friends and a city, Boston, the only baseball organization Youkilis knew prior to wearing pinstripes. The Yankee Stadium electronic board outside displayed, “United We Stand” with Yankees and Red Sox logos and a ribbon on the big scoreboard inside displayed insignias of the teams and a message, “New York stands with Boston….Pray for Boston.”
“It gave me chills and was emotional to me to hear that,” commented Youkilis about the playing of “Sweet Caroline” after the third inning. “Because the fans were into it and it was cool.  Thought it was very special and a very great tribute to an organization that is a rivalry.”
A rivalry, New York and Boston that has diminished over the past few years, but when fans at Yankee Stadium are wearing Boston caps and jerseys near the pinstripes, there is a meaning of unity and emotion. It happened in the Bronx Tuesday night.
As was the meaning of wearing number 42 on Jackie Robinson Night as players, the managers, coaches and umpires did. Major League Baseball once again paid tribute to Jackie Robinson. And a player named “Robinson” Cano had the big three-run home run. The final score was 4-2, as in “42” and the lone remaining player who wears the number, Mariano Rivera saved a game for the last time on Robinson’s day.
Yes, it was an emotional and special night in the Bronx. The Diamondbacks made their first trip to the new Yankee Stadium.  They were 1-5 at the old ballpark across the street, and Rivera was the pitcher on the mound in that emotional World Series won by Arizona in Game 7 at Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix back in 2001.
That World Series ended in early November because the baseball schedule was pushed back with the events of September 11. It was a series that helped mend the wounds of a nation still mourning the effects of a devastating terrorist attack.
“We’re all behind the people of Boston,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi prior to the start of the game Tuesday night. And for a night Yankee fans united with Red Sox fans.
Because baseball and sports, the world of fun and games has a way of bringing that message of unity in a time of tragedy.
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