Thursday night Jonny Gomes walked to the plate with the Red Sox locked in a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the ninth. Perhaps we Red Sox Lifer’s will admit expectations were low as Gomes was hitting below the Mendoza line on the year. But Gomes delivered a leadoff double to start the Sox rally that culminated in another Ortiz walk-off. Sox win 6-3.
Gomes has been a lot of things this year. The tattooed outfielder is funny, affable, generous and always ready with a good quote win or lose.
However, success on the field has been, and I’ll be the generous one now, elusive. Gomes is hitting just .202 with three home runs in 47 games this year.
But you do have to give Gomes this: he is fearless. And with good reason.
After last night’s thrilling win, Gomes spoke with reporters about being a fearless player.
“I’ve almost died five times,” he explained. “It’s pretty much how I approach everything. I’m not trying to test life. None of those things are adrenaline rushes, but just unfortunate things.”
As Rob Bradford of WEEI reported, death defying incident #1 came during Gomes’ freshman year of high school, when a candle tipped over and set his sleeping bag on fire. Gomes was able to escape unharmed.
Incident #2: Gomes was involved in a severe car crash in high school that killed his best friend, Adam Westcott. It also put Gomes in the hospital. He didn't walk for two weeks.
Incident #3: While camping with high school friends, Gomes said, “An old, crazy moonshiner lit us up with a bunch of rounds out of a shotgun.” He literally dodged a bullet that time by hiding behind a car before making a run for it.
Incident #4: Gomes came face to snout with a wolf owned by a man who was helping on a relative’s property. “It was 100 percent wolf,” he remembered. “It went right at me.”
Incident #5: In Gomes’ most publicized near-death experience, Gomes suffered a heart attack in 2002. Gomes was rushed to the hospital with one of the three arteries that leads to the heart having been pinched. He was back on the field four months later.
Actually, the field may be the safest place for Jonny Gomes. And it was on the field last night that Gomes showed why he doesn’t fret death, low batting averages, green monsters or left-handed relievers.
Questions, comments, near death experiences? Comment below.