Seven months prior to championship season, Boston College baseball will play alongside the best of the best—no, not a loaded Clemson or Louisville team, but 317 Hall of Famers.
Birdball will travel to Cooperstown, N.Y. in October for ALS Weekend (Oct. 14-15), in honor of former captain and ALS patient Pete Frates. Head coach Mike Gambino’s group will work with the Baseball Hall of Fame to further Frates’ mission of “striking out ALS”.
The weekend will kick off with a panel, featuring the Frates family and Casey Sherman—one of the authors of The Ice Bucket Challenge: Pete Frates and the Fight against ALS. After that, attendees can participate in Sherman’s book signing and tour an ALS Artifact Spotlight, before watching the Eagles play in the annual Sonny Nictakis Fall World Series.
The series is named after the former Birdball captain, who died of leukemia at the young age of 25. Every year, Nictakis’ No. 8 jersey is handed down to the player who best represents BC baseball. Last season, shortstop Johnny Adams carried on the tradition.
Birdball will play its first of two games on Saturday, Oct. 14 on Doubleday Field. Then, one day later, the Eagles will wrap up the series with another afternoon contest. In addition to the game on Sunday, the Baseball Hall of Fame will also offer a plaque tour, celebrating the accomplishments of the only two major league baseball players who are both hall of famers and ALS victims, Lou Gehrig and Catfish Hunter.
Gambino is excited for his team to take in this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Playing in, let alone visiting, Cooperstown is a ball player’s dream. But above all else, Gambino emphasized that they will be making the trip for one reason: Pete.
“Pete’s mission is our mission and we will do whatever is necessary to wipe out this disease,” Gambino told BCEagles.com.
That mission started back in 2014, when Pete pioneered the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge—a social media charity campaign that has raised over $220 million for ALS research in just three years. But this past spring, Pete and Co. received news greater than any sum of money. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that new treatments have been approved to slow the progression of ALS.
This summer, Pete donated the glove and hat he wore at BC, as well as the bucket and sunglasses he used in the inaugural Ice Bucket Challenge at Fenway Park to the Hall. And come October, Pete will present the Hall with a signed ball. The memorabilia is on display in the Today’s Game exhibit of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum.
So even after Pete and Birdball depart Cooperstown on Oct. 15, part of him will still be there.
Featured Image by Alec Greaney / Heights Editor