Yesterday undoubtedly was one of the more special days Terry Doyle has ever experienced as a baseball player.
Doyle, a former Salem (N.H.) High and Boston College pitcher, hurled a perfect inning against his old college team in the Red Sox' 11-1 victory over BC in spring training.
But that's not all. Far from it actually.
Doyle, who is in Boston Red Sox big league camp after signing a minor league deal this past offseason, also received the honor of wheeling out the very inspiring Pete Frates to the pitcher's mound so Frates (in his wheelchair) could present the game ball before the game began.
Frates is a Beverly native as well as a St. John's Prep and BC grad. He is a former teammate of Doyle's, an ex-Eagles captain and the President of Baseball Operations for BC. The 28-year-old Frates is battling ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. He was diagnosed last March and is an inspiration to Doyle.
"It's always a good time for the BC guys and for the Red Sox to be able to play this game and to be able to enjoy the day and kick off the start of spring training, but it had a little bit special meaning today with Pete being honored and me being able to be a part of that," Doyle said.
Frates and Doyle are somewhat similar. They both are fighters who don't give up when the going gets tough. And they both certainly are easy to root for.
Frates has been extremely active in the community in an attempt to raise awareness about ALS and money for the fatal disease through fundraising events. He is fighting to beat the disease against all odds.
The 27-year-old Doyle, meanwhile, hasn't given up his fight to make it to the majors. He has heard the word "overachiever" used to describe him before. A 37th-round pick in 2008, he was never blessed with Josh Beckett-like talent. He was, however, blessed with a big heart.
Doyle's fight to make the big leagues doesn't have the same seriousness, courageousness or urgency as Frates' battle for his life. That is for sure.
But in the world of baseball where egos occasionally grow larger than multi-million dollar contracts, it's nice to see a young man like Doyle who seems to have a strong work ethic and a true love and respect for the game. It appears from just talking with the 2004 and 2005 Eagle-Tribune baseball MVP that he would not take anything for granted if he was given an opportunity to pitch for Boston this year.
Doyle is filled with motivation. But just in case he needed more, he certainly has received it from Frates' courageous story.
"Pete has amazing passion for baseball and for the Red Sox, the Bruins, everything," Doyle said. "He goes in all the way with how much he cares. Seeing him out there today with the guys who were taking BP and helping out with the coaching staff, he's still got that passion.
"He can't express it the same," Doyle added. "He might not be jumping around like he used to jump around, but seeing that passion just makes people want to play better. It makes people want to do more. The things he's doing with that (BC) baseball program and ALS awareness are remarkable."
In March 2005, Doyle pitched for BC against the Red Sox. He threw a scoreless inning of relief, including striking out Jeff Bailey.
Flash forward eight years. Doyle finds himself in Red Sox camp having pitched in 90 minor league games, including making 77 starts, over five seasons. He also pitched in Japan last year.
Doyle, whose fastball ranges from 87-92 mph and who also throws a curveball, change-up and slider, has posted a 33-27 record and 2.94 ERA in the minors.
Pretty good numbers, right?
Yes, but he still hasn't gotten the call to the big leagues ... yet.
"Baseball, as much as it's a numbers game, numbers can be deceiving," Doyle said. "There are guys who put up great numbers in the minors that just don't do it in the majors. There are guys that put up awful numbers in minors who go to the majors and put it together. It's more than just numbers that affect getting people out and affect baseball. So I'm not really surprised I haven't gotten a shot yet. I'm just kind of waiting for it."
The right-hander is hoping to begin this year in Triple-A Pawtucket as a starter and pitch well enough there to earn some innings in Boston.
He said spring training has been awesome so far.
"A lot of the guys on the team have been joking around with me and welcoming me to the team," he said. "I've spent a lot of time with (relievers Junichi) Tazawa and (Koji) Uehara just because I went to Japan last year. So I get to use like the six Japanese sayings I know and talk to them a little bit. It's always fun going to the field every day and to be able to put on the Red Sox uni, it's a little bit more special."
And yesterday certainly was a special day — and certainly it is special to have two passionate guys like Frates and Doyle in baseball. They are what makes the game worth watching.