By John Orrell, Contributing Writer
Northborough – By now, the story of former Boston College baseball captain Pete Frates is widely known not only in New England but around the country and beyond.
Pete was a 2007 graduate of BC and a star on the Eagles baseball team. He was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) in 2011 and has become an international spokesman for the disease. He was the inspiration for the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” which has raised more than $220 million for ALS research, making it the most successful social media fundraising effort in history.
And now that same generosity that has been shown worldwide to the Frates family was on display on the evening of April 20 when Pete’s family appeared at the annual Beanpot college baseball tournament at New England Baseball Club (NEBC) Sports Complex in Northborough to receive a check for $5,000 dollars from tournament proceeds for The Frates ALS Research and Support Fund.
The tournament featured Frates’ alma mater Boston College, Harvard College, University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Northeastern University with 100 percent of the proceeds from admissions going to Frates’ fund. Pete’s parents, Nancy and John Frates, received the donation before the championship game between BC and Northeastern in a ceremony held at home plate.
“It fills our heart,” said Nancy Frates of the tournament donation. “We’re humbled and we’re honored but the thing that’s most important for people to understand is that this didn’t just happen today or because of the Ice Bucket Challenge. These schools have been supporting us since Pete was diagnosed with ALS. He heard from every one of these schools, every one of these coaches. Everybody reached out to him. It’s a continuation of a show of brotherhood and teammates and friendship and love.
“I think most families who are facing a really severe and hard challenge is to know that you have a new outlook on life. We live a life of clichés, I always say, ‘Stop and smell the roses.’ Every minute counts and all those kinds of things. One of the things we have come to know is that people are good. The Ice Bucket Challenge is a world-wide historic movement to show that when people are asked to do something for good, they do it.”
The day was also bittersweet for the Frates family in another way. Ten years ago to the day, Pete played in this same Beanpot championship game at Fenway Park, hit a home run and was named MVP of the game.
“It’s kind of a melancholy day for us,” Nancy said. “There’s an iconic picture of Pete that we often use a lot of him holding the Beanpot trophy over his head. I know that it’s near and dear to his heart and to be here on the 10th anniversary of that iconic moment for our family and to have the support of these teams in this particular game means more than people really know.”
The evening was also special for the NEBC Sports Complex. The facility, which includes three state-of-the-art synthetic turf fields, was chosen to host the tournament this year after several local colleges moved home games there last year because the schools’ home fields were in poor condition from inclement weather.
“This is a great event for us to host,” said tournament director Ted Novio. “To know that the four Division 1 teams that play in the Beanpot play here and this is the home for us hopefully every other year is wonderful.
“Coaches and teams have been so gracious in helping out any way they can. They’ve all reached out and asked what they can do to make this as great an event as possible. To be able to do this for the Pete Frates Foundation is fabulous.”