Third baseman celebrates with fellow cancer survivor Lester
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
DENVER -- Mike Lowell and Jon Lester were already tied together by personal bouts with cancer. Now they are linked forever as World Series champions.
Lowell, the Red Sox's third baseman, about to become a free agent, was named the Most Valuable Player of the Fall Classic on Sunday night after his key seventh-inning homer, a double and two runs scored set up Boston's 4-3 victory over Colorado and put an exclamation point on his club's second sweep of a World Series title in the past four postseasons.
Lester, the Boston left-hander, was the starter and winner, allowing no runs and only three hits before being lifted with two outs and a runner on first in the sixth inning.
"I'm on cloud nine -- it's unbelievable," said Lowell, who was also a member of the 2003 Marlins team that defeated the Yankees in a six-game World Series. "In '03, no one expected us to do anything, so we were kind of beating the odds each time.
"But it's a little different when, from the onset, a lot of people are expecting you to win a world championship and if you don't, it's a disappointing year. For us to come through and do what we thought we were capable of doing is unbelievable. We've got a lot of people to give credit to."
A year ago, Lester, then 22 years old, was given the news that he had contracted non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of blood cancer that affects the immune system. Red Sox manager Terry Francona made the announcement to the team in a somber meeting. Lester left the club and was administered with four courses of chemotherapy. By the end of the year, he had been told that he was clean and returned to the team in time for Spring Training. Now, he's won his first World Series ring.
"This is unbelievable," said Lester, echoing Lowell. "It's been an up-and-down year, but this makes it all worthwhile."
Lowell was nearly 25 when a routine checkup by a Marlins physician after he was traded to Florida by the Yankees in 1999 revealed testicular cancer. Lowell continues to call it "the scariest thing I ever went through," but he was fortunate. Radiation therapy eradicated the concern, and when a doctor thought the cancer might have returned in his hip a few years later, that turned out to be a false diagnosis.
"I overcame it -- it was a tough road," said Lowell, who hit .400 in the World Series. "I think when you overcome obstacles, it's so much more rewarding when you have success."
Lowell added that Lester's comeback gave him an extra-special feeling. Not only are they now able to share in this accomplishment on the field, but they share the ties that bind from overcoming a life-threatening disease.
"I think I have a special reason to root for him," Lowell said of Lester. "He took the mind-set that he's not going to let cancer stop him from being a successful big league player. He's such a good kid and he's so easy to root for. I'm very happy he was able to come through in big way for us tonight."
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Lester, for his part, said he appreciated Lowell's support, even though Lowell's form of cancer was not exactly like his own lymphoma.
"There's nothing you can really say -- they're totally different things," Lester said. "If somebody gets [cancer], you really can't go up to him and pat him on the back and say, 'Stay with 'em.' Mike came up, gave me a hug and said, 'You're in my prayers. Keep fighting, and hopefully everything will turn out well.'"
So far, so good.
Lowell, at 33, joined the ranks of current Red Sox who have won a World Series MVP Award, a list that includes Curt Schilling (in 2001, with the Arizona Diamondbacks), Josh Beckett (in 2003, with the Marlins) and Manny Ramirez (in 2004, with the Red Sox).
And Lester, after winning his first World Series game, remains cancer-free.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.