UPDATE: Here’s a link to another quick story about Diamond at Fenway: He called the Red Sox one hour before the game and asked if he could sing for them. That is incredible.
Saturday’s Red Sox game against the Royals proved to be a very special one.
The game was played at a new time, rescheduled after the horror of the night before. All day Friday, the entire city, including Watertown, Cambridge and surrounding communities, was on lockdown as authorities searched for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings on Monday. The city was a ghost town as police, FBI, and various law-enforcement agencies scoured the area.
Three people died in the blast, and an officer was killed Thursday night, allegedly by one of the bombing suspects. Dozens more were severely injured Monday. More than 170 were hurt in the dual explosions near the finish line. The suspect was finally taken into custody late Friday night.
There were a lot of flags in the crowd at Fenway Park Saturday; a lot of signs showing fans’ and Boston’s resilience in the face of disaster. ‘Star Spangled Banner’ and ‘God Bless America,’ were proudly proclaimed.
The Boston Police Commissioner, Gov. Duval Patrick and officers showed up on the field earlier in the game as a way for the Red Sox to honor them.
The city needed some closure after Friday’s harrowing events.
Enter Neil Diamond.
I’m a Massachusetts native, but first knew about the “Sweet Caroline” phenomenon as a student at UMass Amherst. There was a bar I frequented where every night at 10 they would play the soft-rocker. It was always one giant singalong by drunk college students. Neil Diamond was your feel-good friend.
So it goes at Fenway.
The Diamond hit has been played there since at least 1997, usually in the middle of the eighth inning. There’s always a pause to let the crowd sing ‘bum bum bum,’ — it’s a perfect rallying cry.
I was not expecting to see Neil Diamond at the game; not sure who in the crowd knew he was coming. He allegedly came unannounced, and asked to sing the song. It was pretty clear he made a special trip to Fenway, and Red Sox Nation was happy to welcome him.
The veteran singer and songwriter strode onto the field, donning his Sox hat and flashing a peace sign. There was no question as to what song he was going to sing. Excitement was mounting.
It was completely off sync– you hear one line, then you hear it again. Hey, why not; double your fun. But it didn’t matter; everyone appeared to be singing along. You could feel the energy; see everyone singing and pumping their fists.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Sox’ Daniel Nava rocks a three-run homer to put the Sox on top. The announcer says ‘Boston, this one’s for you,’ as Nava points to sky and rounds the bases. A Royals’ single home run soon after brings them almost eye to eye with the Sox, but the Boston boys prevail.
So will Boston.
Here’s a story from the LA Times about how ‘Sweet Caroline’ has been played at a lot of sporting events, including at Yankee Stadium, in solidarity with Boston.