Pete Frates, who grew up a diehard Red Sox fan and was the captain of the Boston College baseball team in 2007 before being diagnosed with ALS in March, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Wednesday's game vs. the Tigers.
Standing on the top step of Boston's dugout, Frates still recalls the thrills of facing the Sox in Spring Training and playing in the Beanpot at Fenway Park.
"It's great to be back on the field," he said. "It'll be fun to be down on the mound with the stands filled up. I've got a bunch of friends coming. It's going to be a really good time."
Frates threw out the first pitch to Kevin Youkilis as the crowd gave the local sports star a standing ovation.
May is ALS awareness month and Frates hopes his story will inspire people to join the fight against the motor neuron disease that ended Gehrig's baseball career in 1939 and cut short the life of Hall of Fame pitcher Jim "Catfish" Hunter, among countless others.
Since his diagnosis on March 13, Frates says the response from the community has kept his spirits high.
"It's been overwhelming," he said. "It's a really tough way to find out how much people care about you and your family. But it's been wild to see the outpour of support; the lengths people are willing to go to help out. Hopefully I can be a voice for this thing and make some changes and get some more focus on this disease."
Frates, 27, grew up in nearby Beverly, Mass., and graduated from BC in 2007 after a successful career with the Eagles. Now he's battling ALS and joining the search for a cure.
"I made my peace with it a while ago," Frates said. "Right now we're just doing some fundraising and getting the word out there that we need help. It's events like this that raise awareness."