It’s crazy how things can change so quickly. On Monday morning, I photographed the Red Sox pull-out an emotional, hard fought walk-off win over the Tampa Bay Rays. In the afternoon, I was photographing the aftermath of two bomb explosions that rocked the center of Boston at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring scores of others.
To be absolutely clear and upfront, I put lots of thought and consideration into how to display these photos, if even at all. Thankfully, I was nowhere near the finish line when the explosions happened, but some of these are still a bit tough to swallow. I also debated whether to post images from the Red Sox game. At a time like this, it’s hard to be sure if sports matter at all. But the Sox are a huge part of Boston. This city breathes baseball at this time of year, and so I think, given their emotional, late-inning win on Monday, the photos are both newsworthy and in acceptable taste. I also find it important to see how upbeat the atmosphere at the Park was, and how that all changed so swiftly.
Below is my account of yesterday’s unpredictable and tragic course of events:
We rarely get day games in baseball, and we almost never get morning games. That’s one of the many things that makes the Boston Red Sox season so special. Every year on Patriot’s Day and Marathon Monday, fans from all over fill the stadium for an 11:00 A.M. game. It’s a treat for families and friends who have the day off from work. This year was no exception.
I roamed the park for the majority of the game. Days like yesterday are more about the scene than the action anyway, so I wanted to document all that was going on. It’s funny, because I remember thinking to myself in the sixth or seventh inning that this was one of the happiest, most lively crowds I’ve ever seen at a game. As you’ll see from the photos above, kids were throwing beach balls and stuffing their faces with hot dogs, and older fans were partying in the bleacher seats. One couple even showed up to the game in full wedding garb. They had been married just hours before.
After the top of the ninth inning when the Tampa Bay Rays mounted a comeback to tie the game up, you’d have thought they would have sucked all life out of the place. But such was not the case, and the crowd rallied around the Sox as Dustin Pedroia sparked a rally with a walk and eventually scored the game winning run on an RBI double by Mike Napoli. It was the Sox’ second walk-off win in three games.
It wasn’t until two fellow photojournalists and I were finishing up our game edits in the office when we heard the news. I sat there, dumbfounded as I watched the breaking coverage on television. I think I stared at the same caption I was working on, trying to complete it for five minutes and not getting a single word out.
After several more minutes, it collectively sank in that we needed to get out there. We were three capable, talented photojournalists with gear ready, so we began to make our way downtown.
We shot what we saw along the way, but quickly found that we couldn’t get into the actual scene of the explosion. We thought we should try to get a vantage point from up high, so we went to the top floor of the Westin Hotel in Copley Square. After knocking on a few doors, we found some guests who were there and graciously let us into their room to shoot pictures out the window. They had a vantage point of the sites of both explosions, which you can see above. After filing pictures from their room, we went downstairs and happened to stumble into the end of the press conference with Governor Patrick and Police Commissioner Davis.
When that was through, I made my way back home, shooting what I saw along the way, and called it a day.
I’m lucky I wasn’t close. I’m lucky I didn’t see what the photojournalists near the finish line saw and photographed. It’s impossible for anyone to prepare for a situation like this. Say what you will about how the media has covered this story, or others similar to it. The good journalists out there do it right, and it’s times like these that show the importance and necessity of this profession.
My heart goes out to everyone involved with the Marathon.