LOWELL — Despite the numbness that plagues the entire right side of his body, Ryan Westmoreland still walks with the stature of an athlete, his 6-foot-2 frame towering as he emerged from the dugout.
Despite the paralysis that renders the left side of his face motionless, his proud smile still lit up LeLacheur Park last night as fans and players stood to applaud the man that once wowed with his athleticism, and now amazed with his courage.
“I will always love the game of baseball,” said Westmoreland. “It is sad that I can no longer play the game, but I am happy to be alive. To be back here, is just total excitement.”
Westmoreland returned to the only ballpark he had the opportunity to call home, as the Lowell Spinners retired the No. 25 worn by the former top prospect in the Red Sox organization, whose career was cut tragically short by a life-threatening brain illness.
“It is really special to see Ryan recognized for his character and the inspiration he has become,” said his father, Ron Westmoreland. “I remember standing up behind the stands during his first game here and seeing his passion for the game. To have to see your child go through something life-threatening is horrible, but it is amazing to see him work through all of it and stand where he is today.”
A fairy tale story
It was never supposed to be like this, not for Ryan Westmoreland. His story was supposed to be a fairy tale.
A life-long Red Sox fan from Portsmouth, R.I., Westmoreland was selected by Boston out of high school in the 2008 MLB Draft, and signed a contract worth $1,604,000.
He reported directly to Lowell, where he hit .296 with seven homers and 35 RBIs in what proved to be his lone professional season.