BOSTON -- As a baseball player for the Boston College Eagles, a team he served as captain, Pete Frates once hit a home run at Fenway Park, in the Beanpot Tournament.
On Wednesday night, Frates returned to Fenway, baseball in hand, to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, cheered on by hundreds of supporters who have joined him in his fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Frates was diagnosed with the disease in March, at age 27.
Frates has decided to be in the vanguard of the fight against ALS.
"This is a tough way to find out your lot in life, but I know this is what I was put here to do," Frates, a native of Beverly, Mass., told the Salem News in a remarkable interview. "Lou Gehrig's farewell speech was in 1939. That's a long time ago.
"I know there's a lack of research, funding and awareness. How do I alleviate that using the advantages I've had in life. Eight weeks ago if you asked any of my friends about ALS, they'd say it's a disease and not much else. Now, they can tell you some pretty deep details."
Frates' family and friends have set up a website, petefrates.com, and a Pete Frates #3 Fund, to support his fight against the disease and help to defray his medical expenses, many of which are experimental and not covered by insurance.
Despite his condition, Frates has remained active with the BC baseball program, coach Mike Gambino adding him as director of baseball operations. ALS has a formidable adversary on its hands.