Sox bring smiles, trophy to hospitals

Sox bring smiles, trophy to hospitals

BOSTON -- The 2007 Red Sox Holiday Caravan is a smaller, leaner operation than the team's Rolling Rally was in October. Monday's proceedings, including visits to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Children's Hospital Boston, were closed to the public. They were indoors. And they packed a unique punch.

Pitchers Julian Tavarez, Bryan Corey, Kyle Snyder and outfielder Brandon Moss, along with bench coach Brad Mills, pitching coach John Farrell and president/CEO Larry Lucchino, spent the morning and early afternoon greeting patients with wide smiles, eager handshakes, and -- best of all -- the 2007 World Series trophy.

This one, unlike the team's World Series celebration, was more about the visited than the visitors. The players did the cheering.

"Everything is, 'Thank you for coming,'" Snyder said. "But not for us. It's, 'Thank you for having us.'"

In the morning, the Red Sox visited young patients at the Jimmy Fund, whose longstanding relationship with the ballclub will turn 55 in April next year. Then they moved downstairs, visiting adult cancer patients at Dana-Farber.

"It's just kind of exciting to have this happen when we're here having chemo," patient Diane Frates said. "We're pulling for them and to have the team come in, that's wonderful. It's just a nice moment."

"I thank them for putting their time into this," said patient Paul Theophelakes, appreciative that the team earmarked plenty of time to greet not just children but grownups.

"I think a lot of adults are kids at heart when it comes to baseball, anyway," Theophelakes said, shortly after being photographed with the players. "And to be able to hold a World Series trophy is something that a lot of us never thought we'd see in our lifetime. That's a pretty big deal."

The visit to Dana-Farber also carried personal significance for Lucchino. It was in the same building that Lucchino, one of the principal architects of the Red Sox's two recent title runs, was treated for non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 1985-86.

Mary Jane Tomovick, Lucchino's nurse, remains at the hospital. On Monday, Lucchino handed her the trophy to hold.

"It's much heavier than I expected," Tomovick said.

"MJ was one of the most sensitive, dedicated nurses that I had," Lucchino said, "among a core of dedicated, sensitive nurses. It's great to see her. I've seen her occasionally over these last 21 years, but it's nice to be able to present her with the World Series trophy. And it's a far cry from the time when we were here being treated and she was taking care of me and trying to lift my spirits."

After an hour and a half at Dana-Farber, the Red Sox crossed the street, entering Boston Children's Hospital. They spent nearly an hour taking photographs with patients. Corey Viveiros, 22, was first in line.

"I was up on the floor and my nurse came in and said the Sox players are coming," Viveiros said. "So I was like, 'Yeah, I'm going down.'"

Bomani Jennings, 16, was particularly impressed by how "cool" Tavarez was.

"It was a once-in-a-lifetime type of thing" meeting the Sox, Jennings said.

Nicole Henry, 14, met the players and held the "heavy" trophy, but it was hard to tell who was more excited: she or her grandmother, who pushed Nicole's wheelchair while remembering watching Red Sox games in 25-cent seats.

"This is an incredible stage for us to impact people's lives," Snyder said. "I think for that reason it means a lot to all of us."

Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.