Red Sox Affiliate Pays Tribute to WDBJ-7 Shooting Victims
The Salem Red Sox, Carolina League affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, honored two slain journalists Wednesday night with a touching on-field tribute.
Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, shot and killed WDBJ-7 reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, in Roanoke, Virginia on live television Wednesday morning. Flanagan, an ex-broadcaster with a documented history of workplace disputes, posted two first-person videos of the killings to Facebook and Twitter—promptly removed—before committing suicide.
The Sox, who play in the town adjacent to Roanoke, painted the number “7” on both baselines. Upon finding some extra blue paint, head groundskeeper Bobby Estienne, pictured above, added a blue ribbon for the station’s primary color.
“We discussed it yesterday in our staff meeting prior to the game. We knew it was going to be a short turnaround, so we wanted to think of any little thing we could do in such short notice,” Kevin Burke, director of broadcasting and media relations, tells Boston magazine.
The Sox front office wanted to get black armbands and memorial patches, but with only four home games left in the season, the team was pressed for time. In addition to a moment of silence Wednesday night, general manager Ryan Shelton sent letters of condolence to both victims’ families, as well as the WDBJ-7 team.
“I met Alison five months ago when she…joined me for the traditional live segments from the stadium on Opening Day. In what is a tragic irony, that morning I shared with Alison and Adam our plans to honor the victims of the Virginia Tech shooting eight years earlier,” Shelton wrote. “Last night, at the end of our season, the Red Sox honored Alison and Adam as victims of senseless gun violence.”
Burke says the fans’ reaction, both on social media and at the ballpark, was positive.
“We just love being a part of the community in the Roanoke Valley,” Burke says. “It was a tough day for all involved, and we feel like they’re part of our family. We were all hurting a little bit yesterday.”