Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett donned not his cleats but those oh-so-attractive bowling shoes at Lucky Strike Lanes in Boston for the fifth annual Beckett Bowl, a star-studded bowling tournament to benefit Children’s Hospital Boston, the top pediatric hospital in the nation. The annual fundraiser, held this year on Aug. 29, was organized by the Josh Beckett Foundation, which supports community-based programs that improve the health and well-being of children, especially those who are seriously ill, disabled, poor or otherwise disadvantaged.
The night was clear and warm, a great relief in Boston, which had been battered by tropical storm Irene just the day before. As the sun began to set, an impressive lineup of Boston’s professional athletes and celebrities began to walk the red carpet with some very special guests: several of the pediatric cancer patients currently being treated at Children’s Hospital. Blast caught up with some of our hometown boys to get their thoughts on the event.
Though he’s modest about his bowling skills, Beckett said of the event, “This is something that’s close to my heart and any time you can touch other people’s lives, your life ends up being touched just the same.” Of course, we couldn’t let “Big-Game Beckett” walk by without getting his thoughts on this week’s Yankees series, especially with Jeter and A-Rod out. “It makes their lineup a little easier, but I’m sure they’ll replace them with somebody that’s pretty good, so you gotta go out and make the pitches,” he said.
Following Beckett, Sox second-baseman Dustin Pedroia described his bowling skills as “Not very good, but I’ll give it a shot,” he said. “I’m here to support my teammate, and it’s pretty fun. I’ve been here every year to support Josh and it’s just great to do anything I can to help him and his charity out.”
Other celebrities spotted lacing up for this great cause included John O’Hurley of “Seinfeld” and “Family Feud” fame, NESN broadcaster Heidi Watney, former New England Patriot Max Lane, several members of the New England Revolution, current Stanley Cup champions Bruins players Dan Paille and Dennis Seidenberg, and Staind lead guitarist Mike Mushok. Many of the Red Sox roster were also in attendance, including Adrian Gonzalez, Jon Lester, Jason Varitek, Mike Aviles, Jacoby Ellsbury, manager Terry Francona and Red Sox president Larry Lucchino.
Inside, Beckett kicked off the event by thanking the local sports and business communities, and helpingWilliam Oulton, a pediatric brain tumor patient from Medford, Mass., throw the first ball, which of course looked like a giant baseball. William and his family, who are avid Sox fans, were excited about the event, which provided an amazing distraction during this tough time. Although his tumor damaged his optic nerve and left him legally blind in one eye, William sees no reason he cannot realize his dream of becoming a professional baseball player himself.
A few lanes over, Blast also spoke with Red Sox center-fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who was busily signing autographs and chatting with fans. “This is great. I’ve been coming each year and it seems to get bigger and bigger and it’s great to be here on behalf of the kids,” said Ellsbury. While he felt “alright” about his bowling skills, Jacoby approached the Yankees with more confidence. “We’re excited. It’s a big series, and it should be a great three games. We want to win. We want to be in the playoffs, but we just want to keep on winning games and go out there each night and beat them,” he said. A great outlook for Ellsbury, who went on to smash a two-run homer over the Green Monster in Wednesday’s victory, proving why he is an American League MVP candidate.
The Josh Beckett Foundation also hosted the Beckett Bowl Ultimate Jeep Raffle presented by After FX Customs, where fans had a chance to win Monster Seat tickets to Red Sox games, autographed jerseys, or the grand prize of a fully customized 2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport 4-door. The tournament was followed by an afterparty where lucky fans mingled with their idols.
In just a few short years, the Beckett Bowl has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Children’s Hospital Boston, and funded the 2009 opening of The Josh Beckett Cancer Treatment Room, which features a miniature Fenway Park scene, giving patients the chance to experience a ballpark-like atmosphere. Just back from a brutal travel schedule, and in-between a hurricane and a pressure-packed Yankee series, our Red Sox players took their only day off to give back to Boston and proved once again why they are heroes on and off the field.