CHARLOTTE, NC, August 27, 2017 – On August 17, Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez showed up at the Oldtime Baseball Game at St. Peter’s Field in Cambridge, Massachusetts to pitch in a fundraiser for ALS.
Beginning in 1994, the tradition of the Abbot Financial Management Oldtime Baseball Game has celebrated old-time baseball for the 24th time to raise funds for the ALS Therapy Development Institute. As such, players wear the wool uniforms of yesteryear, something to which even Pedro Martinez had to adjust.
Martinez showed up in support of John Martin, a longtime cameraman at New England Sports Network (NESN) who has been diagnosed with ALS. Martin was a fixture at Red Sox and Boston Bruins games for 19 years, having the thrill of covering the Sox first World Series title in 86 years in 2004 and the Bruins first Stanley Cup in 39 years in 2011.
What most people do not see behind the scenes in baseball is the family community that evolves each season. Players, trainers, clubhouse personnel, broadcast crews and all manner of people from all walks of life are part of the “family.”
Which is why Pedro showed up to “pitch in” and help.
In a world where marketing and publicity often determine the value of a celebrity or an athlete, all to often what players do off the field goes unrecognized. Perhaps that’s the way it should be — doing things for the sake of doing them rather than for publicity.
Perhaps that’s the way it should be, doing things for the sake of doing them rather than for publicity.
Baseball has always been my sport of choice. There is something magical to me about the human chess game that develops on those luscious green diamonds with their irregular outfields that make every ball park unique.
“Too slow,” say many un-fans.
“No personality,” say others.
Football is king. Baseball is an anachronism that has outlived its heyday.
Maybe so, but for me, the pace of the game is part of its charm. Not the endless catcher/pitcher mound conferences or the numerous pitching changes.
Rather, baseball builds on itself. As the ninth inning rolls around and every pitch becomes a duel between pitcher and batter. Don’t believe it? Next time you watch a game, just see how often the tying or winning run comes to the plate or gets on base in the ninth.
Some say the game has no personality. Long gone are the characters who once defined the sport.
In truth, the characters of the game still exist. Baseball players probably have more fun just playing their sport than any other athletes. Every clubhouse has its share of free spirited personalities who make going to the ball park by fellow teammates a joy during the long hot summer season.
As with so many ALS events, it was a game of smiles and joy rather than a somber occasion filled with doom and gloom.
Martinez even went to Martin’s house and drove him to the game.
The pressure of that first moment was more for the veteran pitcher than anything he dealt with on the mound that day.
“I didn’t know what I was going to find,” said Martinez. “As soon as I looked out the window, I saw that big bright smile.”
Smiles were a hallmark of the event, and they got even bigger when dozens of “angels in the outfield,” made up of players from the South End Little League that Martin and his family have supported for 30 years swarmed the mound with a pre-game check for $10,000.
The smiles morphed into tears of joy and thanks — a celebration of life inspired by a man named Pedro. A friend. An amigo. A Hall of Famer who showed up to pitch both physically and symbolically to help eradicate a disease that goes largely unknown.
This is the game that I know and have come to love. It’s a simple game, “you throw the ball, you catch ball and you hit the ball.”
It’s the game of summer. A game when kids used to pick up a handful grass from the outfield and some dirt from the infield and put it in a jar. Then when the lightning bugs came they would capture them and put them in the jar with the grass and the dirt.
It was night baseball in its most primitive form, the perfect nightlight for someone to dream about hitting a 3-2 bases loaded home run in the bottom the ninth to win the World Series and drive in the Babe or Ted.
Too slow? Perhaps. But give me “too slow” any time when there are heroes around like Pedro Martinez and others who give of themselves to aid those in need.
That’s my “Band of Brothers.” That’s baseball.
About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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