Boston College held its annual Baseball Night in Boston season kickoff event on Thursday at the State Street Pavilion at Fenway Park, a new tradition that's quickly taken hold as a special and fabled night for the Birdball team. Highlighted by a keynote address by former World Series MVP and Red Sox postseason hero Curt Schilling, head coach Mike Gambino announced junior Johnny Adams would wear No. 8 in honor of former Eagle Peter "Sonny" Nictakis.
Adams becomes the first junior to earn the honor, which is given annually to the Eagle who best exemplifies the values exhibited in Nictakis. "When we think about what we want in this program and the type of kids we want to represent BC baseball, Sonny was the embodiment of all those qualities: hard worker, great teammate, leader, unselfish, committed to being great at everything he did," said Gambino. "He handled adversity, never complained and held himself and everyone around him to an incredibly high standard. Sonny didn't care whether or not anyone liked him. He had true confidence in himself because of the morals and values instilled in him by his family and he had the integrity to always do the right thing. And that's part of why everyone loved him."
Nictakis, a two-time captain of BC, passed away in 2000 after a fight with Hodgkin's Disease. His uniform number (No. 8) had been unofficially retired since his last season with the Eagles in 1999 until Mike Gambino brought it back in 2011 as a special honor for a member of the team. Mike Sudol was the first recipient that season, and it's been handed out annually. Kyle Prohovich wore the digit in 2012, with Matt Pare holding the honor in '13. Tom Bourdon wore it during his senior year of 2014, with Travis Ferrick honoring Nictakis last season.
Adams was a cornerstone of the Eagles last season, playing and starting in all 54 games for BC at shortstop. A .240 hitter, he tallied seven doubles and tied for the team lead with two triples. He added 21 RBI, good enough to tie for fifth on the roster, and added a .330 on base percentage. In the field, his 168 assists were third best in BC history, and his 39 double plays turned ranked fourth all-time.
Over the summer, he played in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League, earning the Manny Robello 10th Player Award for the Harwich Mariners. Harwich is managed by Steve Englert, the former volunteer assistant for Boston College.
Englert himself was honored last night by Boston College, presented as the winner of the Eddie Pellagrini Award.
The highlight of the night went to Curt Schilling, who delivered the keynote address with host Steve Buckley of The Boston Herald. Schilling drew comparisons between the 2004 World Series run of the Boston Red Sox and a potential postseason berth for the Eagles, saying, "The only thing stopping you from winning the College World Series is you. Look at the 2004 Yankees; that roster was a bunch of superstars. We just wanted it. And we played as a team to get it."
...The only thing stopping you from winning the CWS is you. Look at the 04 Yankees, that roster was a bunch of superstars...— BC Baseball (@BCBirdBall) January 22, 2016
Schilling also pushed for the Eagles to make not only the ACC Tournament but the NCAA Tournament as well this year, saying, "I want to see a true New England team in Omaha. You have disadvantages but so what? Everything else you got going, you can do it."
"I want to see a true New England team in Omaha. You have disadvantages but so what? Everything else you got going you can do it" -Schilling— BC Baseball (@BCBirdBall) January 22, 2016
The Eagles open up their 2016 season on February 19th at Camelback Ranch in Arizona against the Northern Illinois Huskies.