Vinik grabs 15 more seconds of fame
Teen who caught Manny's popup throws first pitch of ALCS
BOSTON -- He was lionized over the Fenway Park public-address system as a citizen-hero of Red Sox Nation. The faithful responded with a riotous ovation.
But when it came time to deliver the ceremonial first pitch, Danny Vinik was just a nervous 17-year-old who was standing before 36,986 sets of prying eyes.
"I've never done anything like that before," said Vinik, moments after delivering a strike to a crouching Brandon Moss at home plate.
It's been quite a week for Vinik, a Weston, Mass., native and the son of Red Sox limited partner Jeffrey Vinik. On Oct. 5, Vinik's intervention on a Manny Ramirez foul popup catapulted him to instant celebrity.
And it wasn't just the clean, legal, two-handed grab over the glove of Angels catcher Jeff Mathis that made Vinik a local hero. It was the jubilant, fist-pumping, high-fiving recognition -- captured by national television cameras -- that he had directly helped his Red Sox. Ramirez walked after the play, extending a fifth inning that resulted in a game-tying third run. The Red Sox went on to beat the Angels, 6-3, on Ramirez's walk-off three-run homer in the ninth.
Soon, Vinik's name and likeness were appearing in newspapers from Canada to Costa Rica. Perfect strangers came out of the woodwork to offer congratulations.
"It's been just a blast, really," Vinik said. "People just calling me and e-mailing me, and people I didn't know.
"It's been great. So much fun."
A week ago, Vinik wore an uneasy smile and a constant blush as he was mobbed by fans and media in the Fenway concourse behind the infield boxes. He initially refused to give his last name.
On Friday, he and his father sat in their front-row seats and answered questions with ease.
"You know, we tried to do business as usual," said Vinik's father, Jeffrey. "But it was great for Danny. We certainly had a fun week. And we've been watching the replay and all. So, good for him.
"It's all been positive attention. And you know, people have been very supportive. Anything Danny did to help the Red Sox, people are appreciative of. So the attention's been great."
The Red Sox thrusted Vinik back into the spotlight on Friday, inviting him to throw out the first pitch of the American League Championship Series against the Indians. It wasn't something the former second baseman at Noble and Greenough School was about to turn down.
On the mound, Vinik's delivery was effortless; in fact, it wasn't even a delivery. With an easy turn, he flung a fastball for a strike.
From his usual front-row seat afterwards, Vinik described the experience.
"It was unbelievable," Vinik said. "I'd never seen anything like that. To be able to stand there and get a standing ovation, to have players clapping for me. It's just ..."
He trailed off.
"I know I've received so many responses from it," Vinik said. "I knew that it had been a pretty big story. But still, it's unbelievable."
Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.