BOSTON — For fans, players and political leaders who celebrated the Red Sox's World Series title with cries of "Boston Strong," the championship provided a jubilant finish to a season shadowed nearly from the start by the April bombings at the Boston Marathon.
The morning after he cheered the victory inside Fenway Park, Ed Carlson returned Thursday to the marathon finish line he had crossed months earlier, 20 minutes before the bombs went off, then had scrambled to find his children in the chaos.
"It was quite a year," said Carlson, 51, of Princeton, Mass. "To be at the marathon and then to be there for the World Series; I still tear up thinking about it."
The success of the Red Sox, who finished last in the AL East a year ago, became a welcome surprise and eventually a symbol of resilience for a city recovering from the twin bombings that killed three people and wounded more than 260.
Jarrod Clowery, a carpenter from Stoneham, Mass., who suffered severe burn and shrapnel injuries in the April 15 bombings, said he was inspired by the Red Sox, who began bonding in spring training over their beards.
"No one gave them a chance after that season last year … but they started growing those beards, they became a unit, and they turned around and won a World Series," said Clowery, who has three friends who lost limbs in the blast. "I'm proud of those guys and happy for those guys."
A World Series parade through Boston is scheduled for Saturday morning.
RATINGS: The World Series television rating on Fox was up 17 percent over last year. Boston's 4-2 Series win over St. Louis averaged an 8.9 rating, 15 share and 14.9 million viewers, Nielsen Media Research said.
Williams to helm Nats
WASHINGTON — More than a decade ago, when Matt Williams was still a third baseman, and Mike Rizzo was still climbing the front-office rungs, the future GM thought he noticed the makings of a future skipper.
Well, here they are. Williams will make his debut as a major-league manager with the Nationals, a hiring announced by Rizzo one day after the World Series ended.
"Matt played with intensity as a player, but he also was a terrific teammate. You talk to the guys that he played with, and they swear by him. He was always team first, and self second," Rizzo said.
The Nationals will hold a news conference to introduce Williams at their stadium today.
A-ROD SAGA: Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez accused Major League Baseball and commissioner Bud Selig of engaging in a "witch hunt" in the investigation that led to a 211-game suspension despite the absence of a positive drug test.
K.C. RETAINS SHIELDS: The Royals exercised their $13.5 million option on former Rays RHP James Shields after he anchored one of the league's best rotations last season, going 13-9 with a 3.15 ERA and an AL-high 228⅔ innings.
FREE AGENTS: There were 147 players who became free agents, including 2B Robinson Cano; OF Jacoby Ellsbury; C Brian McCann; and RHPs Roy Halladay and Matt Garza.