Boston manhunt 'similar' to LA's '92 race riots
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The sirens took Rex Hudler back 21 years, back to a fire and a hug.
As police pored through the streets of Boston in pursuit of the Boston Marathon terror suspects, Hudler, the Kansas City Royals’ color television analyst, couldn’t help but flash back to that flight on April 30, 1992, the short hop from San Francisco to San Diego. Hudler was a 31-year-old utility man with the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Rodney King verdict was barely 24 hours old.
"(The pilot) came on (the in-flight intercom) and said, ‘Hey, look, there's riots in LA,' " Hudler told FOX Sports Kansas City Friday afternoon from his hotel in downtown Boston, where the city remains under lockdown and Friday night's Royals-Red Sox game has been postponed. "We were probably 20,000-30,000 feet in the air, and he tilted the wing, and we saw the destruction and the fires."
On April 29, four Los Angeles Police Department officers had been acquitted of assault on King, an African-American motorist, sparking riots that left 53 dead, another 2,000 injured and a reported $800 million in damages, minimum, over the ensuing six days.
"I was sitting next to Ozzie Smith and Milt Thompson, my friends, who are African-American, and I'm a white guy," Hudler said. "We just kind of looked at each other and kind of hugged each other. And that was kind of comparable, for that little moment, when we were flying over LA when it happened. So it's similar here."
The Royals arrived in downtown Boston this week not knowing what was going to happen with their weekend series at Fenway Park. The team hotel, the Westin Copley Place, is less than a quarter of a mile from where the bombs went off toward the end of Monday's race, killing three. As the Royals' traveling party was checking in to the Westin, Hudler recalled, the FBI was leaving.
"The best way I can describe is that it feels like we're at the center of the universe right now," Royals play-by-play man Ryan Lefebvre said from downtown Boston. "It feels like the whole world is watching right now.
"It's like, if you've ever been to a movie set, where there's barricades and trucks . . . just take those production trucks and replace them with Humvees and police vans and armored vehicles. It's just kind of that same feel."
Only it's not some action/thriller. It's real life, playing out beneath your hotel room window.
"It's pretty strange," Hudler said. "Especially when you check in to your hotel and you see Wolf Blitzer and all the CNN people out in front. It really (does feel) like the timing was pretty strange for us."
It would get stranger on Thursday night, after the team's off-day in Beantown. The Royals analyst found himself watching local and national television of coverage of the manhunt as it got underway after gunfire in Cambridge, Mass., and a car chase that reportedly led to the death of one bombing suspect, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
"I did my best to sleep and had it on (all night)," Hudler said. "But I could hear what was going on. It was like a soap opera, except not really like a soap opera, but really (more) a nightmare for the people that live here."
Shortly before 9 p.m. ET on Friday, a second suspect, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was taken into police custody. More than a million people in Boston and nearby suburbs have been ordered to stay inside and lock their doors, and public transportation in and around the city has been shut down as the search continues.
In the meantime, the Royals remain holed up at the Westin until further notice. Hudler said Friday that he was told the first game would be made up as a day-night doubleheader on Saturday if the city-wide lockdown is lifted before mid-morning.
"Being around the Boston people like I've been over the past couple of days, they're very strong people," Hudler says. "No wonder they're so passionate up here, because they're tight. It's been impressive, how the people are hanging around, and how they're not talking about as much as they are encouraging (each other). It's kind of sensitive, and it's really weird."
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