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Red Sox Help the Community

By Andrew C. Thomas

OPINION EDITOR

Charities in the area have a wonderful new friend on the block these days.

The friend actually has been around for a long time -- its house at 4 Yawkey Way has been up for 91 years -- but I doubt anyone will mind that the Boston Red Sox have come out to play for the charities.

The current management, nearing the end of their second year, has firmly established itself in the philanthropy business. The club hosted a community blood drive on Sept. 11 at Fenway Park and advertised it well -- perhaps too well. A typical blood drive at MIT will net around 80 units of blood per day. The Red Cross was expecting to collect in the area of 200 units, but they were amazed at the crowd of nearly 1,500 people who showed up. They managed to collect 375 units, well over target, and likely made donors out of those who would not normally have turned up for a drive. And just in case you were wondering, the drive was held in the upper deck .406 club, and not on the field as I had hoped.

But no charity has seen as much benefit over time than the Jimmy Fund, run by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The fund is in its 55th year and it is celebrating its 50th in partnership with the Red Sox. A recent telethon run by WEEI in support of the fund also brought out the best in the community, raising over $1 million. Even Yankees owner George Steinbrenner donated $10,000 in a show of good faith and judgement.

And the good news continues at game time at Fenway; the Red Sox and Hood Milk donate $100 to children’s hospitals in New England for every home run they hit, and for every strikeout or double play converted by their defense. CF Johnny Damon, one of the game’s most decent human beings, decided that wasn’t enough and offered up $100 for every hit he collected, whether a line shot into left field or a squeaking bunt down the third base line.

Despite a red-hot Bartolo Colon leading the Chicago White Sox over Boston 3-1, Saturday night’s game proved to be a boon for the kids, considering knuckleballer Tim Wakefield struck out eight (for the fifth time this year), including catcher Miguel Olivo three times.

Add to that two more from reliever Scott Williamson and one from Brandon Lyon. Damon singled three times, and the defense turned one double play. That’s $1500 for one night alone, and seeing as the Red Sox have shattered their previous record for home runs in a season, there’s every reason to think they’ll keep hitting them out long through October and put more money toward that good cause.

It’s a shame that no sadistic millionaire has offered to pony up to the Jimmy Fund or children’s hospitals for errors and weird plays. Catcher Doug Mirabelli mishandled a throw from RF Gabe Kapler in the fourth, and Chicago LF Carlos Lee allowed a Johnny Damon blooper to get under his legs and all the way to the wall. Even more unusual was the next inning, when 1B Kevin Millar broke toward home on a Lee dribbler, leaving first base unguarded and allowing Lee to beat pitcher Tim Wakefield to the bag in a footrace. But best, and funniest, of all was when Lee made a jumping catch at the Monster to rob Bill Mueller of an extra-base hit -- and in highlight reel fashion, caught his shirt on a nail on the old wooden scoreboard.

Then again, if anyone would pay money for bad play at Fenway, one would think it would be Steinbrenner.