Steinberg said the players went to clubhouse manager Tommy McLaughlin and asked him to make up the tribute jersey in Cleveland. Will Middlebrooks' tweet of the "BostonStrong" hashtag gave it a spike that lingers still. The players arranged among themselves to visit the hospitals, without the usual help or prodding of the marketing and community relations departments.
"It was so genuine. It was so sincere," reliever Craig Breslow said. "Any response you saw came from the players — because that's what they wanted to do, not because that's what would look good."
And fans have repaid the favor.
"It's a huge part of our success in the playoffs," Gomes said. "Those fans would not allow us to have the wind taken out of our sails all the way."
Outfielder Daniel Nava remembers his disappointment that the team couldn't go straight to the hospital after returning from Cleveland; because of the manhunt, the city was shut down that Friday and the game was postponed. By the time players were able to visit the victims, it was a week after the attacks.
"We tried to provide any hope and support to anyone that lost a leg or a limb," he said. "But their attitude was actually better than ours. By the time we left, those people — what happened to them, and they survived — they're telling us to keep our heads up. We're saying, 'Us? What about you guys?'
"They did a lot more for us than we did for them," Nava added. "At least, that's how I walked out from it."