Jon Lester stood tall upon the mound at Jacob’s Field Monday night to battle the Cleveland Indians, but in reality, the battle has already been won. Different emotions running through his mind, Lester tightly gripped the ball in his left hand, knees shaking, ready to capture the moment. Butterflies in his stomach, Lester starred down at his catcher Jason Varitek, took a deep breath, and fired his first pitch.
Strike one. The voice of the umpire calling that very first strike had been echoing in Lester’s mind for almost 11 months. The young south paw had his rookie year cut short after being diagnosed with a treatable form of lymphoma. Lester’s doctor informed Red Sox nation that this disease was life threatening, but could also be cured if treated correctly.
Anyone could have thrown in the white towel and given up right then and there. But a determined Lester knew he had to do what he had to do to survive and have a shot at pitching once again. A week after being diagnosed, Lester began his treatment and his long road to recovery. His teammates looked forward to his long awaited return, but were unsure of his future at the time.
His hard working character, positive attitude, and motivation drove Lester to success. Lester never gave in, always going the extra mile. He went through six chemotherapy sessions that eradicated his disease. Overcoming obstacles at ease, Lester would stop at nothing to make his return to the major league.
When Red Sox catchers and pitchers reported to spring training in February, Jon Lester was among the group of ball players. A smile on his face, Jon continued to impress fans and teammates, the same way he did in his rookie year when his 7-2 record was veteran like.
The 23 year old made several stints in the minor leagues this season. He has been working hard to try to make his way back to the place he calls home, Fenway Park. In his rookie season, Lester was the first Red Sox lefty to win his first five decisions. When his fastball reached 96 mph on the radar gun, the Boston fans knew Lester would be rockin’ the major league uniform again in no time.
On Monday July 23, Lester was ready to make his return to the Red Sox when he took on the Cleveland Indians. He walked out onto the pitcher’s mound, looking around in circles at the baseball fans on their feet. Jacobs Field, home of the Indians, were scattered with Sox fans, but they weren’t the only ones who were giving him a standing ovation.
The top of the inning, the Boston hitters already did their job, giving Jon a 4-0 comfortable lead. Before Lester threw his magical first strike, he glanced over at his parents, John and Kathie, who were sitting behind home plate, so proud of their son.
Lester looked as if he didn’t miss a beat in the first two innings as he breezed through them unharmed.
Grady Sizemore connected for a homer in the third inning and was up again in the 4th with the bases loaded. Cool, calm, and collected, Lester launched a fastball past him for strike three and the third out of the inning.
Lester went six innings, and recorded 6 strike outs in his return start. He picked up the win for his team who is currently in control of the AL East. In the midst of Michael Vick indictments, Tim Donaghy scandals, and the pursuit of a record by a man with an incredibly large dome, here comes Jon Lester to figuratively save the day. Finally, we have a good heartwarming story to overshadow the negatives. I just hope he doesn’t own any pit bulls.