Lester soaking in no-hit accomplishment
Parents follow lefty's experience thousands of miles away
BOSTON -- The voicemails kept coming. So, too, did the text messages. As much as Jon Lester appreciated all the different forms of congratulations that came on the heels of his Monday night no-hitter against the Kansas City Royals, nothing meant more than the phone conversation he had with his parents.
John and Kathy Lester were back home in Washington, admiring their son's remarkable accomplishment from more than 3,000 miles away.
Well, only Kathy was watching it live, utilizing the television package on MLB.com.
"They usually watch the games," said Jon Lester. "They have to watch on the computer with the MLB stuff. I think my mom watched it, and my dad was out in the garage doing his usual [stuff]."
What is usual for John Lester is that it is too nerve-wracking for him to watch his son's performances live. And even with a no-hitter in progress, he didn't alter that routine.
"No, he's never watched me pitch, ever since I was little," said Jon Lester, Boston's 24-year-old left-hander. "I think he just gets too nervous, and wants me to do well that he worries about it. So he takes a little bit of the stress off and goes and does other things."
Still, Lester is quite sure his father was aware of what was going on.
"He did," Lester said. "He could tell from the screaming at the computer in the living room. It's a very short distance between the living room and the garage. She was screaming pretty loud. He knew, and he didn't want to come in and [jinx] anything or do anything like that, so he stayed out there. Like I said, I'm sure he rewound it and watched it over again."
As for the man who actually pitched the no-no -- the 18th in the history of the Boston Red Sox -- Lester did a little rewinding of his own.
"I watched a little bit of it," said Lester. "I more or less just watched the tempo. I went and looked at some different pitches that I threw, some mechanical stuff I thought I was doing. But I usually don't watch a lot of game film the next day."
|"I didn't think it could get any better than the World Series, and then last night happened. But at the same time, in six days, I want to be treated like anybody else."|
|-- Jon Lester, on his no-hitter|
The main things that stood out to Lester a day later? The fantastic diving catch by Jacoby Ellsbury in center field, and the final out of the game.
"Without that catch, I'm not sitting here right now talking to you guys," Lester said. "It's a big-time play."
Of course, when you become a part of Major League history, the Hall of Fame comes calling. Lester's spikes will soon be on display in Cooperstown, N.Y., as will the catching equipment used in the game by Jason Varitek, who is the only catcher in history to catch four no-hitters.
After such a memorable night, the hardest thing for Lester to do when he got home on Monday night was sleep. The recovery from a career-high 130 pitches didn't seem anything out of the ordinary.
"I'm physically tired from not sleeping," said Lester. "Right now, it's just kind of the normal soreness, and it will be nice because we get an extra day with the [way the] rotation is set up. I don't have to do anything today, and I can go after my normal routine tomorrow."
Lester will next take the ball on Sunday in Oakland. Until then, he will try not to get distracted by all the hype that comes with throwing a no-hitter. If anyone can pull that off, it is Lester, who is quiet and not into self-promotion.
Naturally, the no-hitter brought back a lot of references to Lester's successful battle back from anaplastic large cell lymphoma. The left-hander admits that being an inspiration to those dealing with cancer is still something he's getting used to.
"It means a lot," said Lester. "It's something I'm still learning how to do. Like I said before, I want to be treated just like any other pitcher when it concerned the illness. I just wanted to be a normal guy and go out there and pitch and get criticized for my pitching and not, 'Oh, he had cancer, so we'll go easy on him.' So it's still something that I'm learning how to deal with -- [as far as] kids and just even regular people that come up to you on the street and say something about it."
When you consider that Lester also won clinching Game 4 of the 2007 World Series, his post-cancer story is starting to develop a fairy-tale feel.
"I didn't think it could get any better than the World Series, and then last night happened," said Lester. "But at the same time, in six days, I want to be treated like anybody else."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.