I wanted to share a piece that I wrote for today’s paper on a story that transcends sports. Monday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon has sent shock waves throughout the world, and it hit home for many locals.
By Vincent Z. Mercogliano
NEW YORK — Tommy Lally Jr. has spent many days and nights at Yankee Stadium booing the Boston Red Sox, so he’s well aware of how intense their storied rivalry with the Yankees can be.
But baseball was the last thing on the New Rochelle resident’s mind when he received a panicked phone call from his younger sister on Monday.
“I’ve been a Yankee fan for 25 years, and it goes without saying that I would never imagine having a soft spot for anything to do with the city of Boston,” Lally said. “That all changed yesterday, as I got a phone call from my sister Nina as she screamed and cried in terror about what she had witnessed just 20 feet from her right.”
“Growing up in New York, my first reaction was that every building was going to come down on me,” Nina Lally said via text message, referring to the terror attacks at the World Trade Center on 9/11. “A couple in full Red Sox gear grabbed me and (my friend) Emmy and calmed us down and told us it was going to be OK. I can’t remember what their faces looked like. All I remember were two Red Sox windbreakers.”
New Yorkers can relate to this attack. On Tuesday, Tommy Lally changed his Facebook profile picture to an image featuring the Yankees and Red Sox logos with the message: “Pray for Boston.”
“I couldn’t help but feel as though in times like this we don’t wear a ‘B’ or an ‘NY’ on our hats, but we wear an American flag on our hearts,” he said. “I changed my Facebook picture to show that this is bigger than a sports rivalry. We are all Americans, and today we must stand together. I will be rooting for the Red Sox today — something I can’t say I’ve done in the first 25 years of my life.”
Many Yankees reacted to the tragedy before their series opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks. None felt as close to the situation as infielder Kevin Youkilis, who has spent the bulk of his career with the Red Sox.
“We were very fortunate, reaching out to all of the people that we know, that everyone was OK,” Youkilis said. “It ate me up a lot. I lost a little sleep about it, and it’s tough. My father-in-law’s office is right there, too, and we’re just very fortunate that he wasn’t there.”
The Yankees honored the victims and the city of Boston on Tuesday night with a moment of silence and the playing of Fenway Park favorite “Sweet Caroline” at the end of the third inning.
In the past, that song might make Yankees fans cringe. In the aftermath of the bombings, it provided a message of support.
“I think it’s important that we recognize that we’re all behind the people in Boston and everyone that was involved,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “You think about that being a song that’s a tradition there, that’s special to Fenway Park and the people of Boston, and we’re behind them. Put the baseball teams aside, and we want to be there for them.”
Associated Press photos