It was the rare occasion when what was printed on the back of a jersey was more important than the letters on the front.
Northeastern University took the field at Fenway Park for last Monday’s Baseball Beanpot final wearing special jerseys to honor the victims of the recent Boston Marathon bombings. Every player had the number ‘617’ on his back to represent the Boston area code.
Hamilton native Matt Cook pitched four innings of spotless relief for the Huskies and earned the win as his team took Beantown bragging rights with a 6-3 decision over UMass Amherst.
“A day or two after the bombings, we started putting ‘617’ or ‘Boston Strong’ on our hats. Representing the city, showing that we’re all one, is important,” said Cook, a 6-foot-4 junior righty.
The red jerseys also had Boston on the front and Northeastern’s trademark “N” logo on the sleeves.
“We had batting practice at our home field, and the coaches sent us upstairs to the clubhouse for a surprise afterwards. When we saw the shirts, everyone was yelling and clapping. We were stoked,” Cook recalled. “At the end of the season, we’re planning to auction them off and give the proceeds to the One Fund.”
UMass jumped out to a 2-0 lead at Fenway and the Huskies summoned Cook in from the bullpen to begin the top of the fourth. He wound up tossing four innings of 2-hit ball, issuing just one walk and striking out two before giving way to Michael Foster (who earned the save).
“We were down but we seemed to be having good at-bats (and were) seeing the ball well, so my outlook was to throw strikes, get some quick outs and get the guys back to the plate as quickly as I could,” said the 21-year-old Cook.