BOSTON — A defiant David Ortiz stood on the Fenway Park infield and told the crowd to "stay strong," bringing a rousing cheer from Bostonians weary from a week of bombings, stay-at-home orders and a manhunt that locked down the city for a day.
Playing at home for the first time since two explosions at the Boston Marathon finish line killed three people and wounded more than 180, the Red Sox on Saturday honored the victims and survivors with a pregame ceremony and an emotional video of scenes from Monday's race.
"This past week, I don't think there's one human being who wasn't affected by what was going on down here," Ortiz said. "I was emotional, very angry about the whole situation. … Everybody was hurting. I know it's going to take some time to heal up, but the one thing everybody's got to remember is that everybody supports each other."
Starting with a video, alternating between celebratory and somber and accompanied by Jeff Buckley's song Hallelujah, the tributes continued with a first-pitch ceremony that honored a first responder, a victim of the blast and marathon institutions: Dick and Rick Hoyt, who have participated in the race for more than 20 years.
Then Ortiz took the microphone and, in what he said was an unplanned outburst, let loose with an expletive that drew a huge cheer from the 35,152 who made it through beefed-up security to their seats on time.
"This is our (expletive) city, and nobody is going to dictate our freedom," he said. "Stay strong."
The ceremony was televised, but the Federal Communications Commission said no penalty would be assessed for the language used.
Neil Diamond, who flew in on his own and asked if he could sing Sweet Caroline, gave a live performance in the eighth inning of the Fenway staple. As Diamond left the field, fans chanted "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!"
"You give people hope," Ortiz said. "We wanted to let them know we're here for them."
ANGELS: 3B Alberto Callapso went on the 15-day disabled list with right calf tightness.
ASTROS: OF J.D. Martinez went on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right knee. OF Fernando Martinez was activated from the DL.
BRAVES: INF Blake DeWitt went on the 15-day disabled list with lower back soreness. RHP David Carpenter was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett.
NATIONALS: 3B Ryan Zimmerman went on the 15-day disabled list with a sore left hamstring. 3B Anthony Rendon was called up from Double-A Harrisburg.
WHITE SOX: OF Dayan Viciedo went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique.