(Photo Courtesy: David Goldman)
This past weekend, Boston College baseball held its 7th annual ALS awareness game at Fenway Park. Even though they lost to 16th ranked Florida State 13-7, the day was a massive success. 5,400 plus showed up to Fenway Park to watch the Eagles take on the Seminoles. All proceeds went to strike out ALS, a disease that has unfortunately hampered BC baseball legend Pete Frates. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” affects roughly 2 in every 100,000 people. Roughly 6,000 people are diagnosed with ALS every year in the United States.
Pete’s Baseball Career
A 2007 graduate of Boston College, Pete set the BC baseball record with 8 RBI in one game. (Thanks in large part to a grand slam and 3 run homer) against Maryland. But his biggest moment in baseball? His homerun vs. Harvard in the Beanpot at Fenway Park his junior year. A childhood dream of Frates was to play at Fenway Park. Not only did he get to play there, he thrived there winning the Beanpot. While at BC, Pete actually played in two conferences, the Big East and the ACC. BC joined the ACC in July of 2005 which was Pete’s sophomore year. After Boston College, Pete went to play baseball in Germany in the German Baseball League and also coached. He was a player who loved the fastball was rarely late on them. Until one day he noticed that his body was just not reacting the way it should be.
His Life and Battle With ALS
His bat speed was slow, his reaction time was off. He took a pitch off the wrist in a game and that injury just never healed right. After seeing many specialists and doing some research on his own, he received the news he had been dreading. He stared in awe at the ALS website. On March 13th, 2012 Pete Frates was given the horrific news. He’d been diagnosed with ALS. He knew he was in for a fight and from there it was clear, WE must raise awareness and find a cure for this awful disease. Even after the diagnosis, he still lived his life to the fullest. Marrying his wife, Julie, on June 1st 2013. The lovely couple had their daughter, Lucy, on August 14th 2014. On September 5th, 2017, Pete released his book “The Ice Bucket Challenge.”
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
In July of 2014, he began raising awareness, and more importantly, funds with the trend, the “Ice Bucket Challenge”.
Even celebrities got in on the challenge.
I partook in it not once, not twice, but three times!
Since its creation in July of 2014, the ALS ice bucket challenge has raised over $100 million for ALS research. But perhaps the best ice bucket challenge video, was Pete’s at Fenway Park.
When done properly, the ice bucket challenge gives us a little taste of some of the first signs and symptoms of ALS. Pain, tingling, and muscle weakness. Luckily for many of us, these symptoms go away after we warm up. But for those with ALS, it gets worse. Eventually to the point where you cannot breathe, eat, speak, or even move.
Today, Pete has to rely on an eye tracking device to communicate but he still has that charm and wit that he’s always had. Just check out his twitter. He also has one of the greatest senses of humor ever. Last July, it was reported that he passed away from ALS. Pete quickly responded with a video of himself lying in a hospital bed with Pearl Jam’s “Alive” playing in the background. And also posted photos of himself with the caption “Still not dead.” But who can forget this classic 98 mile rap on 98.5 the sports hub making fun of Scott Zolak.
The average life expectancy for those with ALS is about five years. He still gives many hope for a cure, and of course, a smile on our faces. I wrote a story a short while ago saying that Joe Kelly was the f*cking man, but Pete Frates is a f*cking legend.
For more information about ALS and Pete’s journey, and to donate, visit his website.
Brian Berard (@RockyBerard)