Meb Keflezighi Will Throw Out the First Pitch at Fenway Park
Here’s why he deserves a standing ovation.
Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi will throw out the first pitch at Fenway Park tonight, where one expects that he will be greeted with a huge amount of love from the crowd. Hopefully by now people realize that Keflezighi was basically the perfect man to win the 2014 Boston Marathon.
That’s not just because, on the emotional anniversary of the bombing, he became the first American to win since 1983. He was also keenly conscious of the message his win would send. Keflezighi ran with the four names of those killed last year written on his race bib. When he crossed the finish line, he sounded pitch perfect in describing to interviewers what his win meant.
“It was not about me. It was about Boston Strong,” he said through tears. “When the bomb exploded, every day since I’ve wanted to come back and win it.”
You know he’s going to enjoy throwing out a pitch at Fenway tonight, because when he won, he also pointed to the finish line and told reporters: “When the Red Sox won and put the trophy right there, I wanted to win it for the people of Boston.”
This was more than just talk. “The race meant more to Meb than any other elite,” wrote Dick Patrick, co-author of Keflezighi’s memoir, in a post on LetsRun.com:
A year ago he was sobbing in a hotel near the finish line shortly after hearing the blasts and then learning of the tragedy. Deaths and carnage from terrorism resonated with someone who was born in Eritrea during a war with Ethiopia.
Patrick pointed to an instance that Keflezighi wrote about in that memoir. When he was just eight years old, a young boy died when he mistook a land mine for a toy. Keflezighi helped gather his body for a burial. “Here was a kid, not much older than me, who was doing an everyday chore yet never made it home. I learned at a young age not to take tomorrow for granted,” Keflezighi said.
In his post, Patrick wrote:
So it was not lip service when Meb said he had thought about the injured and dead for a year. It was not a perfunctory gesture when Meb wrote the names of the trio of last year’s fatally injured on his racing bib. Those were genuine inspirations for him, during months of training and during the race.
A successful 2014 marathon was going to be a symbolic victory no matter who crossed the finish line first. But to have the winner be an American—a man who deeply felt the pain of last year’s bombing and used that to fuel him toward an unlikely victory—provided Boston with a triumphant ending that is worth, at the very least, a standing ovation at Fenway Park tonight.