BOSTON -- Bridget Johnson was told two days ago that the Boston Red Sox had invited her to throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Sunday night’s game against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park.
Johnson, 11, is the daughter of Red Sox first-base coach Ron Johnson. She lost her leg in a car accident last summer while riding her horse and was recently fitted with a prosthetic left leg. Prior to the game, Bridget, her older sister Cheyenne and her mom Daphane sat in the dugout. Numerous Red Sox and Yankee players came over to wish Bridget well before her father escorted her out to the mound. Ron Johnson did not know until moments before that Bridget was throwing out the first pitch.
The Red Sox flew the Johnson family up from their home in Tennessee on Saturday for the special event.
“Oh, my gosh,” Daphane said as they walked off the field.
Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis, who bought Bridget a new horse, caught the pitch, then gave Bridget a big hug. Bridget named the horse Youkie.
“It’s great,” Youkilis said of Bridget throwing out the first pitch. “With all that the family has been through, it’s amazing for her to come back to Fenway. Surviving that thing was a blessing.
"When they asked me if I would catch, I said, ‘I’ll be honored to.’ We didn’t know if RJ was coming back, so to have him back and to have Bridget here to throw out the first pitch is awesome.”
“That was really neat. And they kept it from RJ,” manager Terry Francona said. “I’m sure once the fans got an explanation of what was going on it was very touching, but for our team it was really something. You see the way the Yankees reacted, that was a nice moment for everybody.”