Sean Casey, Tim Wakefield, Mike Lowell, Jon Lester, and David Ortiz. So much class at the annual David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic.
Part of the thing that drew me in about baseball was the personalities: I loved when the Globe did player profiles, and I still devour biographies and memoirs as soon as I can get my hands on them.
In recent years, the Red Sox have seen a parade of characters, but very few of them have had the class of Mikey Lowell. Lowell, as I'm sure you remember, was a throw-in in the Hanley Ramirez for Josh Beckett deal - sort of a salary dump for the Marlins. He was coming off a bad year, and no one would have been shocked if he continued his downward spiral.
Mike wasn't having any of that. He fixed his swing, continued with his work at third base, which had always been good, and threw himself into the Boston philanthropy scene. By the end of 2007, he was the World Series MVP, and Boston loved him. Jason Varitek crossed over from Captain to fan at the World Series Parade, holding up a sign imploring management to "Re-sign Lowell."
Theo complied, and Mike was his usual consistent self for the first half of 2008, but then his hip injury took him out of commission. I don't know about any of you, but watching Mike give his all during the 2008 playoffs was one of the most gutsy things I've seen. It was clear that he was in excruciating pain, but when he was asked, he was going to give his all - for his teammates, for his fans, and for all of New England.
On a more personal note, Mikey's book helped me through a very tough time earlier this year. I expect you've all tired of hearing this by now, but if you have not read his book, go out and buy it right now. Deep Drive is the perfect gift for any baseball fan, anyone affected by cancer, or anyone who enjoys a good read.
Now we're getting word that Mikey is being traded to Texas for Max Ramirez (pending a physical, which, considering Mike's history, is becoming problematic). If/when the trade gets done, Mikey will be a first base/DH type, coming off the bench as needed, which might be the best thing for him considering his age and injury history. However, when he comes back to Fenway Park, I fully expect to see Red Sox fans stand and cheer. Mike Lowell is truly a class act, holding no grudges when management unabashedly went after Mark Teixeira last winter, though he was clearly the odd man out.
Happy trails, Mike. I'm so glad you spent some time in Boston, and I'll miss you.