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In Memoriam: Nick Modico

Former Birdball Manager Succumbs to Ewing's Sarcoma

Jim Pierce

Anyone who's gotten to know me knows I became a journalist so I could push the envelope - find stories nobody else was willing to write, seek out storylines deeper and more in-depth than what anyone else could get. It's a personal challenge to find the essence of the soul of sports, find what makes playing a game so great, and find what breaks through bonds and creates the intricate web of rivalry and competition so profoundly amazing.

When I first spoke with Nick Modico, I immediately found someone who accentuated what's so great about the game of baseball. Sarcastic and cutting, Nick didn't cut any material out, was straightforward, and was willing to share details with a wit even if it might've seemed politically incorrect. He didn't worry about others' opinions because telling it the way it needed to be told was the way he saw it.

In baseball, that's the way things work in a dugout. There's a lot of chops busting, and there's a lot of straight-to-the-point discussion. Since baseball is typically the slowest moving game of the four major sports, there's more than a lot of conversation. Bonds are forged and created throughout the entire process of showing up to a game, playing, and cleaning up. In the process, it becomes a sacred place that borders on politically incorrect.

That Nick was able to carry that wit with him throughout a diagnosis of cancer and subsequent treatment impressed me. It inspired me. It taught me that people don't roll over, shouldn't roll over, and ultimately fight disease simply by being themselves. That he outright told me, "Hey, this is what happened. I have cancer. But don't feel bad for me because at least it explains why I've felt like crap" was something eye-opening. And if there was a way to be inspired by someone who you've never met, that did it.

Nick Modico, the former BC baseball team manager and former Boston College Eagle, passed away this morning after a battle with Ewing's Sarcoma. As I mentioned in my two previous pieces about him and his fight, it's often eye-opening to us all that not all cancer fights get the happy ending. We all want to believe in the storybook ending of Mark Herzlich running through the tunnel after returning, walking off the plane to get a Super Bowl ring, and all that. I know I do. And I think that type of success presents real hope for so many people.

So for us, I present the challenge to continue the fight. Let this serve as an inspiration to step forward and continue the fight against the insidious disease of cancer. Let us pick up the cause he now leaves behind. I know, based off his blog entries, that Nick fought through immense pain. His pain is now at ease, and now it's up to us to continue his battle.

I know the simple joy of watching #94 run out of that tunnel was shared by the entire cancer survivor community. For those of us related to those affected by cancer, it was a sheer exhilaration that could never be topped. Now let's band together and ensure that so many others can feel that joy and share in that feeling.

Rest in peace, Nick. Your pain is clear, and now we pick up your torch.