Anybody that has either themselves, or has seen a loved one go through cancer treatment can tell you of the fear that the uncertainty can bring; of the struggle, both mentally and physically, that comes along with the diagnosis and what follows on the path to recovery. For many, some of that can be quelled by a simple gesture, the extension of a supportive hand; in knowing that you’re not in it alone.
On Friday, Red Sox Nation was floored by an unexpected announcement. Manager John Farrell revealed that he had been diagnosed with Stage 1 lymphoma; and would be stepping away from the team for the rest of the season to focus on his recovery. As part of his treatment, he will be required to undergo three 21-day cycles of chemotherapy.
Farrell’s first session began on Tuesday at Massachusetts General Hospital. As he arrived early that morning, he did not do so alone. By his side was Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona and bench coach Brad Mills.
The Indians were in Boston for a series against the Red Sox, though this was a gesture that went far deeper than a simple extension of support for a fellow manager. Francona and Farrell’s bond goes far deeper than that.
Prior to taking over as manager of the Indians, Francona had served in the same role with the Red Sox. Infamous for breaking the Curse of the Bambino, he won two World Series. Farrell was on the staff for one of those championships, serving as pitching coach. Mills was on the staff for both. Farrell and Francona had also spent time as teammates during their playing career, crossing paths on the Indians roster in 1988. Over the decades, they bonded, forming a close and enduring friendship.
As such, it should come as no surprise that both Mills and Francona stood by Farrell during his time of need. According to Francona, they spent much of the time reminiscing, telling stories, as old friends often do.
“He’s my friend,” Francona said of Farrell. “Millsie is every bit the friend to everyone. I appreciated Millsie doing that. I think John was happy to see him.
I was glad under the circumstances we could be there. Sometimes things happen in strange ways. I feel grateful, for whatever reason, we got to be here.”
Although what most see can be found on the boxscores, baseball about is much more than wins, runs, outs and innings. If Francona and Mills’ gesture teaches us anything, it is that baseball is a fraternity, where sometimes there are things more important, at least for a time, than the logo on your cap. In the game of life, sometimes everybody can use the support of a teammate.