Royals honored to help bring baseball back to Fenway

Royals honored to help bring baseball back to Fenway

BOSTON -- The Olde Towne was back to life -- especially at Fenway Park for the first baseball game after the Boston Marathon bombing and the dramatic killing and capture of the suspects. The day the city stood still was over.

"It was like a ghost town," reliever Tim Collins said.

But olde Fenway, on the 101st anniversary of its opening in 1912, was open, operating and very much upbeat after five days of heartbreak and uncertainty.

"It gives people something to keep their minds off of what's going on, gives them something to cheer about, something that gives them pride. Obviously, many people in Boston are proud Red Sox fans and have been for generations," infielder Elliot Johnson said. "So it's something that's good for them, gives them something to root for and bring a smile back to their face, because these last few days have been pretty dark."

Boston and surrounding communities were basically shut down during a 20-hour manhunt for suspect No. 2.

"It takes away your freedom, your safety, your peace of mind. We live in the United States, and we think we've got it pretty good, and obviously we do," Johnson said. "But, obviously, then there are people that are trying to take that away -- and they did for a couple days."

Collins' family from nearby Worcester, Mass., was coming in for the Royals-Red Sox game on Saturday, after Friday night's game was postponed because of the manhunt for the second suspect.

"They're coming here today, but they're so far away, they're not directly affected," Collins said. "So it wasn't a big deal if I didn't hear from them for a little bit. My dad actually drove into Boston yesterday morning with a couple of his buddies and they were able to get in, even though everything was on lockdown, but it was kind of, 'Go at your own risk.'"

Collins, who was a fan at Fenway growing up, anticipated an emotional day that would help the healing of a city.

"It's the same with any major city. Sports plays a huge role in the community, so that's basically all this game really means -- just bring everybody together and kind of forget about what happened," Collins said.

Confined to their downtown Boston hotel throughout Friday's crisis, the Royals passed time as best they could. They had a team lunch, some worked out, some played cards.

Closer Greg Holland worked on a crossword "unsuccessfully," had lunch, played cards, watched a movie, caught up on the news, and went to sleep. Fellow reliever Kelvin Herrera caught up on his sleep, and like almost everyone in the hotel, the city, the commonwealth, the country and world, watched the drama on TV.

The decision to postpone the game, which will be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader on Sunday, was unquestioned.

"I think they made the right move. They wanted to catch the guy," Herrera said.

About the time a Friday night game would have been in the third inning, authorities did just that.

"It was definitely something that I don't think any of us have been through before," second baseman Chris Getz said. "Being kind of confined to our hotel, not knowing what's going on and it's literally right outside our windows. From my hotel room, you got a pretty good look at the city, you could hear the sirens. You're watching all this stuff on the news, but you're also getting kind of a visual of what's going on. So it made for a very surreal experience."

When word the second suspect had been captured spread across the nation, crowds at ballparks erupted in appreciation. At New York's Citi Field, there were chants of "U-S-A, U-S-A," and crowds elsewhere rose and cheered.

"It's obviously very cool for people all over the country to be cheering like that and baseball gives them a stage to do it," Getz said.

On Saturday, that stage was Fenway Park.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.