They can’t play baseball very well right now, but the Boston Red Sox*, my home town team, currently in last place in the American League East, knows how to make an ethical and generous gesture of respect and gratitude.
It has been largely forgotten now, but pitcher Derek Lowe was a big disappointment to the Red Sox during the regular 2004 season, barely winning as many games as he lost and pitching to a high earned run average. In the play-offs and World Series, however, Lowe was as good as good as a starting pitcher could be, going 3-0 and winning the clinching games of both the team’s stunning comeback play-off series win over New York and it sweep of St. Louis to win Boston’s first World Championship since 1918.
Tired of Lowe’s inconsistency and unpredictability (he had a reputation of partying too hard, especially on road trips), the Red Sox let him leave as a free agent after the 2004 season. Since 2004 he has been for the Atlanta Braves what he often was for Boston: a sometimes brilliant starting pitcher with a deadly sinkerball, and for the Red Sox, a distant memory. Last season Lowe’s home was robbed, and among the more than $90,000 of baseball memorabilia that was stolen was his Championship ring from that 2004 season. His insurance covered the monetary loss, but the ring, Lowe’s personal symbol of his key role in a Historic sports event, was lost forever.
Last week, when he was in Boston with his latest team, the Cleveland Indians, Lowe beat the Red Sox as a starting pitcher, and later received a message from the Red Sox owners that they wanted to give him something. Then John Henry, Larry Lucchino and Tom Werner, the trio of tycoons who have owned the team for a decade, personally presented him with a 2004 World Series ring to replace the one that was stolen from his Florida home.
Lowe pronounced himself stunned. He also informed the media of the team’s generous and thoughtful act, which the Red Sox did not do. This wasn’t for PR, and it wasn’t part of any fan charm initiative. The Red Sox ownership remains grateful for what Derek Lowe did for their team, and felt they should demonstrate it.
Good work, guys.
Now hurry up and find some starting pitching.
* Full disclosure: The Boston Red Sox have been one of the primary obsessions of my life since 1962, and Fenway Park is my favorite place on Earth.
Pointer: NBC Sports
Graphic: Rings That Bling
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