Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tim Wakefield's 200th Win Was Not the Best "Feel Good" Story at Fenway on Tuesday Night - The Real Hero in the House

In the wee hours of Monday morning, the Red Sox came limping home after a disastrous road trip to Toronto and Tampa. The pressures of the pennant race had freshly squeezed the juice and the life out of them at Tropicana Field, where they were swept by the Rays. As the Sox prepared for a make-or-break-the-season home stand, they were in serious need of a transfusion of energy or a transplant of heart.

The home stand opened at Fenway on Tuesday evening with Tim Wakefield taking the mound for his eighth attempt to reach a significant milestone - his 200th major league victory. Twice he gave up leads, but the Red Sox bats finally came to life and eventually led to an 18-6 shellacking of the Blue Jays and the long-awaited victory by the veteran pitcher. The crowd roared its appreciation and love for their hero, the venerable knuckleballer, Tim Wakefield.

While most of the eyes and camera lenses at Fenway Park were trained on the baseball hero as he made his curtain call in front of the Red Sox dugout, another significant milestone was quietly being celebrated in Section 21 behind home plate. A gracious lady from Chattanooga, Tennessee was pointing to the man seated next to her, and proclaiming, "Here is the real hero."

Here is the short version of this wonderful feel good story of God's grace.

This lady from Tennessee had been battling leukemia, and was losing the battle. Her doctors told her that a bone marrow transplant was her only hope. Family members and friends were tested, but none proved to be a suitable match or potential donor. The family and their church family continued to pray, and finally, a man living in the Boston area was found to be a close enough match. The bone marrow transplant procedure took place, and did the trick. The lady's cancer went into remission, and she returned to health and the vibrant life she was accustomed to living.

Her son plays minor league baseball for the Colorado Rockies, and he had the idea that his family could thank the donor by treating him to a game at Fenway Park. He contacted the Red Sox organization, and they made the event possible, providing prime seats behind home plate for the bone marrow donor, the recipient and her baseball-playing son.

I was privileged to be sitting in the same area, struck up a conversation with the son, and learned of the special occasion that was quietly playing itself out. His mother and the donor were meeting face-to-face for the first time to celebrate this miracle. It was clear in speaking to the son and the mother that their strong faith had also played a key role in her recovery, along with the life-giving marrow.

While 38,000 vociferous fans were celebrating the remarkable exploits of someone who throws knuckle balls better than almost anyone in major league history, a few of us were celebrating what had happened when life had thrown a curve ball to a family from Chattanooga.

It was a special moment.

If you click on the link on the title of this piece, it will take you to the Dana Farber website that explains the procedures for registering to become a bone marrow or stem cell donor. Why not take a few minutes now to click and set yourself up to be added to the roster of those who may be given an opportunity to pitch in and save a life.

God bless.


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