Never one to slow down, Thursday night January 23rd was reserved for Boston BBWAA awards dinner. I joined Jonny Gomes, Jon Lester, John Farrell, Ben Cherington, Matt Harvey, and many others on the dais for a final look back at the 2013 season. I was incredibly humbled to accept both the Unsung Hero Award, and the Tim Wakefield Award for community service. As a player who has spent most of his career mired in anonymity, it was great to be recognized for my contributions to the team, both on and off the field. In accepting my award, I noted that “we had a cast of 25 unsung heroes” and I believe that to be unequivocally true. One thing I did ask the audience, rhetorically, is if the nature of the “unsung hero” award precludes a player from being a multiple winner. Despite not being heralded entering the 2013 season, this team. Of course realized the ultimate. The success of this team was rooted in having 25 guys capable of a game winning performance on any given night.
Without question, the highlight of the evening was the inspiring remarks by former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland. Westmoreland spoke of a promising baseball career derailed by the detection of a cavernous malformation at his brainstorm and his subsequent brain surgeries, with neither bitterness nor disdain. He admirably accepted his fate, and urged current players to never take a moment for granted, because there was nothing he wouldn’t sacrifice to be able to put on a uniform and play once again. As often as we hear stale expressions about enjoying every moment of life’s roller coaster, Ryan’s message was highlighted by candor and sincerity.