The Red Sox knew full well that they weren't just playing for themselves last year, but for an entire city.
"It brought us together," said Ross. "It created a sense of urgency. We had a tight knit group already, and it definitely, I just think pulled us even closer together. We take our job very seriously, but when you're talking about playing for something that's bigger than an organization or baseball, and playing for people that are losing limbs and looking for a bright spot in their day when they watch the Red Sox play, it's kind of a cool thing, a humbling thing. There's definitely a sense of responsibility."
Prior to Thursday's game, the White Sox ran a video tribute recalling last year's tragedy and held a moment of silence. White Sox players also wore "Boston Strong" T-shirts over their uniforms. After the seventh inning ended, the White Sox played "Sweet Caroline" over the ballpark's speakers.
Two events the Red Sox will always remember from that day are the bus ride to Logan Airport just moments after they had started to learn what happened, and the impromptu team dinner that took place in Cleveland that night.
"We didn't really know what was going on," said Mike Napoli. "We were still trying to find out why something like that could happen, why someone would do that. We were just talking about families and hoping everyone was OK. Yeah, it brought us closer, but it was a weird day."
Napoli was just getting to know Boston at that time. Now, he fully realizes the strength of the community for whom he plays.
"The city is strong," Napoli said. "They came together. It's been a long year, but people are getting through it. It's something we'll never forget, but people are getting through it."
"Hopefully with today being that one-year mark, it's another day of healing for everyone involved, particularly the families of the victims," said manager John Farrell. "I think it's critical that we never forget the victims that have fallen. There's been a lot of conversation over the last couple days with either staff or players that, when we look back, obviously the senseless acts that took place, but I think we're all proud to have been part of the healing process, how small it might have been.
"I think it makes us even further proud to be part of an incredible city and a very strong community that I think became even stronger when we unified in response to it."