The Beanpot championship game started out with a presentation of a check to the Frates family for $5,000, a noble contribution and gesture as part of the New England Baseball Complex hosting the 2016 Beanpot. A symbol of their generosity, the hugs and kisses from John and Nancy Frates to all parties involved underwrote what was to be a day built on competition.
As Boston College rolled to its 8-2 victory over Northeastern, there seemed to be moments echoing the past. Nick Sciortino had a big day at the dish, robbed of a four-hit day that would have equaled the amount of knocks by Pete Frates 10 years ago. The Eagles won via the long ball, the lasting image when Pete homered at Fenway in '06. And BC won big, similar to the way they defeated Harvard a decade prior.
The moment wasn't lost on their head coach.
"It's awesome (to honor Pete)," said head coach Mike Gambino after the win. "John and Nancy Frates are such a part of the Birdball family. These seniors have grown up with John and Nancy and Pete there at pretty much every game, traveling with the team and being a part of their family. So when you see Nancy Frates giving guys like Joe Cronin and these guys legit hugs and kisses, it's family. So it's hard to explain how much it means."
Playing in honor of Pete is something that Boston College and their brethren baseball schools are incredibly enthusiastic about, but it's something that happened with the assistance of the New England Baseball Complex. All proceeds from the Beanpot's gate, from both the consolation and championship games, went to the Frates Foundation, helping to research and find a cure for ALS.
"It's a real credit to the New England Baseball Complex," said Gambino. "You see how they jumped on board, donating all of the money (from the Beanpot)."
The 2006 Beanpot means so much in retrospect to the Boston College program and to the Beanpot for that everlasting photo of Pete, the performance he put on the field. But it's a tribute to the work the programs put in with the hopes that they're looking to eradicate the disease, that this isn't something that they're doing forever.
"I was talking to Nancy Frates that it was 10 years since Pete's performance, and in that 10 years, we've wound up doing some great things for ALS research," said Gambino. "We hope that for the 10th anniversary of Pete's diagnosis, that they've done some great things to help cure ALS, that maybe we can stop having these ALS games. They're on the verge of doing some great things to fight the disease, and that's the goal. Doing all of these things for ALS is not something we want to do forever. In 10 years, we would rather say, 'Hey remember when ALS had to be a cause and how it's gone?'"
While the overarching message of the day was the support for Pete Frates, the Beanpot victory sent a resounding notice that Boston College, a program that underwent a trophy drought between 2011 and 2015, is back to winning trophies with the regularity it once had. Champions in 2001, 2003, 2004, and 2006, the Eagles underwent a four year following the "Frates game" before winning again in 2010. Back-to-back winners in '10 and '11, BC underwent another four year drought before winning last year. Now, as back-to-back champions, it's about continuing the tradition and winning a 13th championship next year.
"Our message as upperclassmen is always to leave the program healthier than when you started," said senior Logan Hoggarth. "Winning the Beanpot feels great because we know what it's taken to get back to the top, and we want the younger guys to know what it takes to win. What we hope is that they'll keep winning it and it won't leave BC again. We feel like if those guys can keep winning, that it's like we keep winning it with them."
"We are playing three quality local opponents," said Gambino about the Beanpot. "It's important to win the Beanpot, and there was a drought there for a while. Not even as a coach but as a former player, we want to win this every year. You look at men's and women's hockey, and it seems that they are winning it every year. We want to keep up with them, and we want the Beanpot to stay here. We want three Beanpots in Chestnut Hill every year."
At the same time, it's still a litmus test to where the team is going. "It's an important step in where we want to be as a program," said Gambino. "It's a step in the growth and development of the program, that winning is part of that tradition. We're not where we want to be yet, but it's a good step and it's a step in the right direction."