MLB teams honor Newtown victims before openers
NEW YORK (AP) — The names, written in script, streamed slowly down on the video board in center field at Yankee Stadium, of the 20 children and six educators who died last December during the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Fans in the sellout crowd of nearly 50,000 were on their feet, silent, as were the players on the field.
“It was tough seeing all those names scroll through,” Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury said.
Before their season opener against the Boston Red Sox on Monday, the New York Yankees held a tribute to the victims of the Newtown school shootings and honored first responders who rushed to the Connecticut school on Dec. 14.
During the moment of silence, the honor guard included members of Newtown police and firefighters.
Major League Baseball asked all teams to wear patches on their uniforms during openers to honor the dead and those affected by the shooting. Each patch includes the Newtown seal, a black memorial ribbon and 26 small stars.
Washington general manager Mike Rizzo attached a patch to a lapel on his pinstriped charcoal suit.
“It’s so we don’t forget about the people in Newtown,” Rizzo said, tapping the patch with his hand. “It honors them and keeps them in our thoughts.”
Two of the first responders, Det. Daniel McAnaspie and Det. Jason Frank, spoke to reporters before the game at Yankee Stadium. The repercussions of the shooting still are felt by the police, many in therapy and some not able to work.
“We’re getting each other through the days. We’re getting each other through the weeks,” the 41-year-old Frank said. “I can tell you within my 17-year career, I’ve probably spent more time the last couple months with individual guys than I have in my entire career, just for the listening, the laughing, the crying.”
Both wanted to thank others for the support given to their department and to their community.
“It was overwhelming at times,” said McAnaspie, 35. “We had police departments as far away as New Zealand sending gifts, teddy bears for our kids because we weren’t home for our own families. ... It was humbling to see that that many people would come together for our town.”
McAnaspie and Frank said they are fans of the Yankees, who are inviting about 3,000 children, families and others in the Newtown community to their July 7 game against Baltimore.
“It means that we can try to bring a little bit of comfort to them,” Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera said. “We cannot change ... what happened. That was a tragedy that shocked the United States and the whole world. We just want to give them something so they can get a bit of respite.”
AP Sports Writers Howard Fendrich, Eric Nunez and Howie Rumberg contributed to this report.