Red Sox, Boston College Game To Honor Peter Frates
The Boston Red Sox organization has historically worked with many charities in the public eye. March 3rd will be no different, and, yet, it will be very special to one particular family and the city of Boston. The Frates family, Major League Baseball, and Boston College will be teaming up to raise awareness of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
Peter Frates is the man responsible for making the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ famous, taking YouTube and social media users by storm. He was a former Boston College baseball player and suffers from ALS, which he has devoted his life to educate others and raises money to help fight the disease. ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig‘s disease, a note not forgotten by Frates. In a special edition of Bleacher Report, Frates himself reflected on his excellent baseball career being cut short by ALS and his decision on what he would do next:
"“Lou Gehrig now inspires me every day; I have a poster of his speech on the wall of my garage. It is the last thing I see when I leave the house. I use his words to help me attack the day and keep up the fight against the beast that is ALS.” – Peter Frates"
Before the famous New York Yankee died of the disease, his speech about him being the “luckiest man on the face of the earth” inspired so many people to learn more about ALS and how to fight it, as well as fighting other worthy causes. It was one of the most touching, heartfelt, emotional events in all of history, let alone in sports’ lore. It was very personal and very human, much like Lou Gehrig. Frates’ challenge works much the same way, as it captured popular culture. Famous people and average citizens alike completed the challenge. “Since July 29, 2014, The ALS Association has received $115 million in donations” (ALSA.org). Not bad for the baseball player from Beverly, Massachusetts.
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Yesterday, it was reported by Phil Stacey that Rob Manfred, the new MLB Commissioner will be throwing out the first pitch at that game to start the beginning of the new season in Fort Myers, Flordia, when the Red Sox play Boston College. “The Red Sox and Eagles players will all be wearing the No. 3, which is what Frates wore as a standout ballplayer at both St. John’s Prep and Boston College. In addition, Boston College is planning on wearing special throwback jerseys for the game, similar to those that Pete’s teams wore when he patrolled the outfield for the Eagles in the mid-2000s” (SalemNews.com).
Unfortunately, the effects of the disease may make it so that Frates cannot attend the festivities. However, he ” is hopeful that he’ll be able to attend the March 3 event in person” (Stacey, SalemNews.com). Frates, who is now 30 years of age, has fought the disease for three years and needed to use a voice recognition system to communicate his thanks for an award presented to him at the recent 92nd annual Baseball Writers Association of America dinner. ALS devastates the body, destroying nerve cells and paralyzing voluntary muscles. “On average, a person diagnosed with ALS has between 2 to 5 years before death, but each case is unique and some people will live shorter or longer than this average” (ALS.ca). The fact that Frates is determined to make the exhibition game says a lot about his courage and passion for life.
Frates said, “My dream is for this article to be found by someone in a Google search one day—much like the one that linked my symptoms to ALS—and for he or she to wonder how anyone ever could have died from something treated so easily” (BleacherReport.com). For this author, that day was today.
Our readers know that I have been public about not being personal in my articles unless it is for a good reason. In this case, humanity’s fight for life, especially this individual’s words of wisdom, have inspired me. My family, both immediate and extended, have been touched by different forms of cancer and Multiple Sclerosis. We continue to support each other through these challenges, as any family would do. The fact we as a society need to remember is that people like Peter Frates are someone’s father, mother, grandparent, sibling, uncle, aunt, or child. They are members of someone else’s family. They may be a stranger or they may be a best friend; it does not matter. Disease does not discriminate between families, race, religion, gender, or creed. Yet, this evil is also what makes us, the human race, a family. We fight together as much as we die together. We may not have control of the disease, yet, but we have control of how our souls will stand against it.
If you cannot witness the exhibition game in person or on television, I still suggest you give a nod, in some personal fashion, to Peter Frates on March 3rd. My baseball cap is fully tipped to him and his family, likely for the rest of my life.
**Please read the linked article, to hear Peter Frates’ story and inspire you to learn and do more about ALS and other diseases: