Martin Richard, 8, was the youngest of three people killed in the explosions…
The front of their red and white shirts bore a poignant statement: “We are Martin’s firefighters.”
On the back of the shirt, the name “Richard” appeared above the number "8." This was the number Martin Richard, the youngest Boston bombing victim, wore on his Little League jersey.
Fifty Boston firefighters wore the shirts in tribute to Martin at Savin Hill Little League’s opening day ceremonies on Saturday.
During the parade on the way to the field, the firefighters lined the streets along with 50 Boston police officers in "Boston Strong" shirts, exchanging high fives and smiles with Little League players.
League officials hoped to pay tribute to Martin while maintaining a fun, happy atmosphere.
“We’re continuing to play baseball,” league President Tony King said in a phone interview. “It isn’t about forgetting Martin. It’s about honoring him and continuing to play.”
The firefighters' shirts reflected the desire to move forward. The department had originally planned to wear “blues,” uniforms typically worn to funeral services, King said.
“We made it clear this isn’t a funeral,” King said.
He worked with officials in the fire and police departments to come up with the idea of baseball shirts with a special message.
During the opening ceremonies, heads bowed as King asked for a moment of silence. State and local lawmakers were in attendance.
Representatives of the first three responding units in the Boston explosions — Boston Fire Department, Boston Police and Boston Emergency Medical Services — threw out the first pitch.
The firefighters, police officers and paramedics lingered after the ceremonies to take photos with players and talk to families.
“I can’t think of enough words to describe how awesome they were today,” King said.
The Fire Department hung an American flag from an extended ladder on one of its engines and paid for an ice cream truck to park at the field for two hours and hand out free ice cream to kids.
One more memorial for Martin was visible in center field.
The city’s parks department had spray-painted a baseball that bore, like the backs of the firefighters’ shirts, the number “8," Parker said -- Martin’s number, and his age.
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