Author's cut of the article as it appears in the June 2013 edition of New England Baseball Journal Magazine.
05/17/13: While the marathon bombers were on the run in Watertown, Mass., the Watertown High varsity baseball team was mentally preparing to play Arlington High at Victory Field at home the next morning. That game was postponed while the entire town was placed on unprecedented lockdown.
Watertown High School players line up in Watertown Strong T-shirts at Victory Field.
Raiders senior pitcher Gabriel Rodriguez might have missed action
on the field, but he was exposed to more action than he could have ever imagined as the manhunt took off outside his home.
“I heard one
my bedroom,” Rodriguez said. “Then
I looked out my window and saw a
few cops going by. It was nothing big.
And then I looked into the distance
and saw a big fireball in the air. That’s
when I knew something wasn’t right.
Five seconds later, I saw 20 cops coming
down my street. From there, the
cops took over. They told everyone
to stay indoors. No one could come
out at all. It was a pretty surreal moment.”
Raiders coach Aram Manoukian
has lived in Watertown his entire life
and considers himself a Watertown townie. He’s in his 10th season coaching
baseball for Watertown, second
with varsity, and also is a math
teacher at Watertown Middle School.
He was on his way to the orthodontist
when he heard about the Boston
Marathon attacks earlier that week.
“I heard Mazz and Felger on 98.5
say that an incident happened at the
marathon,” Manoukian said. “They
said they didn’t know if it was a store
explosion or something else. My first
inclination was to go on online and
check the Facebook and check the texts to make sure nobody I knew
was hurt. I knew some teachers that
were running. One of our principals
from our school system was running.
Of course, there were all kinds of
friends of mine that were down there.
I was pretty nervous. I knew for a
fact that there were some students
that I teach at the middle school that
were at the bombsite. It definitely hit
It only got more frightening later
that week when the manhunt came
to Watertown and gunfire exploded
outside his window. Manoukian was
“I thought I was inside of some
crazy nightmare,” the coach said. “I
was just shutting my television off
and opening my window and turning
my light off to go to bed. Just as
I opened my window, I heard these
loud cracks. It sounded somewhere between fireworks and the gun going
off for a track meet. They were
very loud. I looked outside my
window and saw cops swarming
in. I live about three blocks away,
maybe about 200 yards. I heard the
whole thing. The
was pretty horrifying.
saw the amount
of police that
were coming in
to get these guys
… you just knew
it was them.”
Watertown High School coach Aram Manoukian was eager to get on field.
we all know
the story of
After a few
days trapped in
the house, and
exactly a week
without a game
eager to get back onto his home
field. The game against Arlington
that was postponed was reschedule
exactly a week later — and quite a
crowd was on hand.
“I’m pretty proud to be wearing
my Watertown jersey tonight,” he
said. “I can’t wait to play for my
it’s all about
pride. As soon as
the first pitch happens,
It was anything
but usual. Before
the game, Watertown
put on a moving
pregame show to
celebrate the local
police and fire departments. Mike
Lahiff, the director of athletics, was
master of ceremonies.
“It is no secret that it has been
a tough week for everybody here
in Watertown and everyone else
throughout the Boston area,” Lahiff
said. “Yet instead of backing down,
the community came together and
provided a unified front. Sports also
has a way of bringing people together so we decided to use tonight
as a way to show our appreciation
for the first responders, and also to
remember the lives lost during this
Lahiff then thanked the Arlington
baseball team for
the crowd to join
him in a moment
for those who
lost their lives
in the marathon
Among the 11
They were the
first on scene to
help save the life
of MBTA Transit
officer Richard Donohue Jr., who
suffered a bullet wound during the
gunfight that ultimately led to the
capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
“You can imagine being a firefighter,
not wearing S.W.A.T. gear,
and not being armed, and going
into a scene like that to save a life,” Manoukian said.
“It’s got to be nerve
After the local
first pitches from
Menton and police
officer Tom Dicker.
Sara O’Connell sang the national
Then it was just another baseball
game. But the score wouldn’t matter,
because Watertown already won.