By Phil Stacey
---- — Dr. Charles Steinberg has only had the pleasure of meeting Pete Frates once in his life.
But the Senior Advisor to Boston Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino says the Beverly resident has left a lasting impact on him.
Frates, the 28-year-old former St. John’s Prep and Boston College baseball star who is battling Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease), will present the first pitch tonight before the Red Sox take on Boston College in their annual spring training game in Fort Myers, Fla.
Speaking from the Red Sox complex in Florida last night, Steinberg said he was thrilled to have Frates a part of tonight’s festivities.
“We certainly wanted to acknowledge Pete and the fact that he played for BC and played against the Red Sox here in Fort Myers,” said Steinberg.
Last August, Steinberg had the chance to meet Frates during Boston Herald columnist Steve Buckley’s annual Oldtime Baseball Game. In telling Pete’s story, Buckley explained to Steinberg that Frates would be on the field for the start of the game, play first base for one pitch, then be replaced by another player.
The Red Sox’ public relations guru remembers being taken in by the power of Frates’ ever-positive personality.
“I went over and met Peter, and he was as congenial and dynamic a young man as you’d find,” said Steinberg. “He makes an immediate impression on you with his charisma. You know when someone affects you and has had an impact.
“When I knew we’d have the (Northeastern/Boston College) doubleheader again this spring, some of us were in a meeting with Larry Lucchino and I said, ‘I hope we can have Peter Frates there.’”
Frates, who hit a home run at Fenway Park during the Baseball Beanpot while playing for Boston College, will present the first ball tonight from his wheelchair on the field at JetBlue Park at Fenway South.
Steinberg is just as fascinated by the fact that Terry Doyle, a pitcher from Salem, N.H. who is in spring training with the Red Sox as a non-roster invitee, was a teammate of Frates’ at Boston College.
“(Red Sox publicist) Pam Ganley told me this and I said, ‘You’re telling me two guys who were BC teammates and played in Fort Myers against the Red Sox find themselves now where one is in uniform for the Red Sox and one is waging the fight of his life?’ If that story doesn’t grip you, I don’t know what does,” said Steinberg. “It takes your breath away.”
Steinberg, who said he enjoys following Frates on Twitter, is looking forward to his second meeting with Frates tonight in Fort Myers.
“People contribute with their lives every moment they’re with us, and many contribute long after, as Lou Gehrig continues to,” said Steinberg. “The person involved may not know their impact, but Peter greatly influenced me just by meeting him.”