Friday, March 28, 2008

Two Boston Sports Legends

Last night I attended a fundraiser for my local South Shore YMCA. I had the privlege of sitting next to Jim Lonborg who won the Cy Young Award for the Boston Red Sox in 1967. He gave away 4 autographed baseballs to help raise money for the Y, one of his favorite charities. He surprised me with an autographed baseball, too!

Jim Lonborg was the ace of the staff during one of the greatest summers in Boston Red Sox history. He enjoyed seven seasons (1965-71) with the Sox, and is most noted for his magical 1967 season. That year, "Gentleman Jim" won the Cy Young with a a 22-9 record, leading the Impossible Dream Sox to the American League pennant and their first trip to the World Series since 1946. He was thrilled to see the Sox win the World Series again last October, and enjoyed partaking in the Opening Day ceremonies at Fenway Park.

Earlier in the day, I got to meet Willie O'Ree, a legendary Boston Bruins hockey player who now works to promote diversity in USA Hockey. I even got an autographed puck!

Willie O'Ree became the first black NHL player on January 18, 1958, when he made his debut with the Boston Bruins. Despite being secretly legally blind in his right eye (due to an errant puck to the eye two years earlier), O'Ree rocketed through juniors and the minors, and reached the pinnacle of the hockey world. This past January, the Bruins honored O'Ree in Boston to mark the 50th anniversary of his NHL debut. In addition, The Sports Museum of New England established a special exhibit on O'Ree's career. What a great day with these two incredibly talented athletes!