EDITOR'S NOTE: Jamestown native Dan Scotchmer is an athletic communications assistant in Harvard University's Office of Athletic Communications. He was at Fenway Park last Saturday for Boston's first home game since the bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15. Following is Scotchmer's account of that memorable afternoon:
After living in Boston for the past eight months, I finally had an opportunity to visit historic Fenway Park this past Saturday.
While any first trip to a ballpark, especially one like Fenway, is a special occasion, this one took on added significance given the events of the past week. It happened to be the first home game since the terrorist attacks that had placed the city on edge and shut it down for almost an entire day.
After getting to the ballpark around an hour before the first pitch with my girlfriend and best friend, who had driven 10 hours to Boston while the city was on lockdown and the cops were still searching for suspect No. 2, there was a mixture of relief, civic pride and tension still in the air.
Upon entering the park, we explored our unfamiliar surroundings briefly before finding our seats down the right-field line to make sure that we didn't miss the pregame ceremony. Without any warning at around 1 p.m., the speakers began to play Hallelujah while a video montage of photos from the Boston Marathon was shown across the three video boards. The entire stadium stood and watched in silence with brief intermissions of cheering and clapping as the different images were displayed on the screen. Despite being stuck at work during the Marathon on Monday, it was still an incredibly emotional experience, and I found myself trying to quash the lump in my throat as the realization of how lucky I was to be standing there truly started to set in.
Following the video, numerous people were recognized for their efforts in the aftermath of the bombings before it was time for the national anthem. The Bruins had started a new tradition on Tuesday by having the crowd sing the anthem, and the Red Sox followed their lead on Saturday. The organist played the first few notes before the (fans) started to sing the Star Spangled Banner, steadily gaining strength as the song progressed. It was another incredibly powerful moment, and I had to pause on a few occasions to catch myself and briefly regroup.
David Ortiz, who was making his season debut and is beloved as Boston's Big Papi, took the microphone next and fired the entire stadium up with his stirring speech. With everyone's spirits lifted, it was time to play ball.
It became just an ordinary Red Sox game from there - until the eighth inning when it came time for one of Boston's unofficial anthems, "Sweet Caroline." There had been rumors circulating the stands that Neil Diamond was there to perform, but it wasn't definite until he emerged in a black sport coat down the right-field line, microphone in tow. The crowd went bananas as it belted out the lyrics to the classic tune and made an already unforgettable afternoon that much more special.
The Red Sox ended up taking the lead in the bottom half of the inning on a Daniel Nava three-run homer and holding on to win in the ninth to send the Boston faithful home happy.
Being a Yankees fan, I don't think I'll ever be able to root for Boston; however, on this day, I was able to take solace in the fact that the victory helped further the healing process for my adopted home.
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The Buffalo Bills own the eighth pick in the first round of the NFL Draft, which begins tonight.
For those who have followed the team through the lean years - the Bills haven't made the playoffs since 1999 - it's been obvious that their success on draft weekend has been dubious, at best.
But while the memories of first-round busts Aaron Maybin, Mike Williams and Erik Flowers still linger, I'm also reminded of the acumen of Bill Polian, who was largely responsible for laying the foundation for those Super Bowl teams of the 1990s.
Following are the Bills' first-round selections from 1985-1992 when, not coincidentally, Polian's fingerprints were all over the personnel decisions: Bruce Smith and Derrick Burroughs, 1985 (Polian was not named the GM until after the '85 draft, but he played a key role in getting Smith signed); Ronnie Harmon and Will Wolford, 1986; Frewsburg native Shane Conlan, 1987; no first-round pick in 1988; no first-round pick in 1989; James Williams, 1990; Henry Jones, 1991; and John Fina, 1992.
What's interesting is that even in the years Polian didn't have a first-round pick he still hit a collective home run. In 1988, he plucked Thurman Thomas from Oklahoma State in the second round. A year later, he chose Don Beebe out of Chadron State in the third round. Thurm only went on to the Hall of Fame, while Beebe had a solid career and played in an NFL-record six Super Bowls with the Bills, Carolina and Green Bay
In addition, Polian's late-round picks from 1986-1992 included: Mark Pike (seventh round, 1986); Keith McKeller (ninth round, 1987), Howard Ballard (11th round, 1987); Jeff Wright (eighth round, 1988), Carlton Bailey, ninth round, 1988); and Marvcus Patton (eighth round, 1990).
Oh, I miss Bill Polian.
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Larry Felser, the former Buffalo News sports columnist, died on Wednesday at 80. I had the pleasure of covering the Buffalo Bills with him during the team's Super Bowl years. Even though he was an icon in the industry, Larry always accepted me as one of the guys. From my view, he is the standard by which the rest of us in the sports writing profession should be measured. Peace be to his memory.
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Tyler Anderson, the son of Jamestown native John Anderson, and the first-round draft pick (20th overall) of the Colorado Rockies in 2011, has pitched well so far this season for the Modesto Nuts of the Class A California League. According to BaseballReference.com, Anderson has posted a 3.18 ERA, struck out 18 and walked seven in 22 innings spanning four starts.
''He is very competitive and very impressive at this juncture of his career,'' said Nuts manager Lenn Sakata, who earned a World Series ring in 1983 with the Baltimore Orioles, according to MiLB.com. ''His fastball is better than I was led to believe. He is sneaky fast, and he has a lot of poise and game awareness.''
According to MiLB.com, Anderson ranks No. 6 among Colorado prospects, and his fastball has been clocked recently at 91 mph.
Last season, Anderson was the South Atlantic League's 2012 leader in ERA (2.47) and WHIP (1.08) - walks plus hits per inning pitched. Throwing for the the Class A Asheville Tourists, the left-hander finished with a 12-3 record and walked only 28 batters in 120 innings. He did all that despite playing with a sports hernia for much of the season.
Anderson, a Las Vegas native, is the grandson of the late Manley Anderson, who was a Post-Journal reporter for more than 50 years.