Gomes awed by Brady's Bunch
|photo by myfoxboston.com|
It all started with a visit by a very small 3 year old named Brady Wein.
A boy with many talents already.
He can hit, catch, throw, and plays a bit of lacrosse.
Oh, and he has been fighting Leukemia since he was 3 months old.
The scene in 2012, Jonny Gomes was working out at Athletes Performance Institute in Scottsdale, AZ, getting ready for the Oakland Athletics season.
Up walks Brady, hands Jonny Gomes a lacrosse stick, and Johnny's says, "Nah, I'll use the glove." Next thing you know, they start playing catch.
That was how it started, but MLB writer Ian Browne captured much more of the story and gives us an inside look at how an athlete is more than just a sports hero for one little boy.
What struck Gomes the most was his love for playing sports and being outside, sort of a throwback to
the days when he was a kid.
"I thought he was real young, but he grabbed a lacrosse stick and we were playing lacrosse and then we had to go down to the batting cage and then he wanted to hit," said Gomes. "Then he wanted to throw to me. Then he wanted to play hockey. This kid was just so excited to be outside. He was so excited to be in the sun. It's kind of different these days seeing that.
|photo from 7 News WHDH|
"All these kids with their iPhones, iPads, video games and Xboxes, it was just so cool. He was 3 years old and he was already like a throwback. I played with him for a long time and I remember right at the end, I was talking to his dad and he was also a super-cool guy, from Boston, but I didn't play for Boston [at the time]."
They kept in touch and Jonny Gomes moved out to join the Boston Red Sox. With Brady's treatments requiring them to move to the east coast he became an avid Red Sox fan.
This summer, Brady made multiple trips to Fenway Park, where he played wiffle ball on the field and hung around with Gomes and several of his teammates.
Jon Lester, Boston's star lefty who was diagnosed with cancer in 2006, gave Brady a special gift in the summer of 2013. In the emotional first game back after the Boston Marathon bombings, the Red Sox wore specially-designed home jerseys that said "Boston" on the front.
Lester gave his to Brady.
"He signed it to Brady and walked down to the batting cage where we were and he gave it to him," said Gomes. "Brady's reaction almost made it like a tear-jerker, emotional moment because Brady at 5 years old knew how important that was to receive a gift from Jon Lester.
Jonny Gomes wears special shorts, socks, and a bracelet from the Brady Bunch, a name and design given to the lacrosse team Brady's father coaches.
They knew he was a friend, but Brady's family were not aware how deep that friendship went.
Until game 4 of the World Series.
Just before the 6th inning started there was a ceremony for 'Stand Up To Cancer.' Jonny Gomes held up two signs, one for his old high school coach and one for Brady's Bunch.
"I've been around a lot of pro athletes," said Mike Wein, Brady's father. "You never really know how they feel toward you. I used to say to people, 'I'm friends with Jonny Gomes.' And they're like, 'You are?' And I'd follow it up with, 'I don't know if I'm [truly] friends with him', you know what I mean? How can you describe if you are friends with a pro athlete? You don't know. But when he came out with the sign, that was it. I knew."
We all know what happened next, as Jonny Gomes hits a three-run homer to snap a 1-1 tie and was perhaps the biggest hit by the Red Sox in the 2013 World Series.
Through all of that, Jonny Gomes remains a true friend.
He can't wait to show Brady his new ring.
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More by Eric D. Schabell