Pete Frates got what he wanted most on his special day at Boston College's Shea Field.
The Eagles scored the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning to beat Wake Forest, 9-8, in the opener of yesterday's Atlantic Coast Conference doubleheader in Chestnut Hill and then recorded a 4-3 win in the nightcap.
A huge crowd assembled around the field and inside the adjoining parking garage for the fifth annual ALS Awareness game despite steady rain and unseasonably cold temperatures. BC officially retired Frates' No. 3 during a ceremony between games.
"These players are Pete's family and they have been excited about this game," said BC coach Mike Gambino. "It's hard to put into words how much Pete has meant to the development of these boys and all of us at Boston College."
Frates, 30, was joined on the field by his immediate family: father John, mother Nancy, younger brother Andrew, wife Julie and daughter Lucy.
Frates was first presented with a framed No. 3 maroon and gold BC game jersey. His number and name were later unveiled alongside former coach Eddie Pellagrini's No. 13 on the right field fence.
"This is the ultimate, this is the pinnacle that he hoped and dreamed of because he was an NCAA college baseball player first and foremost," John Frates said.
"To see this ceremony take place on the field where he had so much success was overwhelming for us. I don't know how many more magic moments are left but this was just incredible."
We honored our hero @PeteFrates3 by retiring his #3. It was special for the entire Birdball family #StrikeoutALShttps://t.co/M8DziVI8z0— BC Baseball (@BCBirdBall) May 8, 2016
Frates played the outfield in 107 games at BC from 2004-07. He batted .228 with 88 hits, 56 RBI, 11 home runs and 34 stolen bases. Frates, who is confined to a wheelchair, was swarmed by the BC players at the conclusion of the ceremony. Frates still serves as BC's director of baseball operations.
"I was a freshman Pete's last year in the dugout with us," said pitcher Luke Fernandes.
"Pete's an act of inspiration for our team every day and he is the symbol of BC baseball for us. He's affecting the world and he wore the same uniform we're wearing."
Frates' fight against ALS gained international exposure in the summer of 2014 with the Ice Bucket Challenge. The social media-driven fund-raiser amassed over $200 million to help find a cure for ALS.
"When the Chancellor of Germany (Angela Merkel) dumps a bucket of ice water on her head, you know that Pete Frates has had a global impact," said BC athletic director Brad Bates.
"It is mind-boggling and the courage (with) which he has embraced this is truly inspiring. It is just amazing."
Between games, we unveiled the best addition to Pellagrini Diamond pic.twitter.com/Vzslvs37zU— BC Baseball (@BCBirdBall) May 7, 2016
Frates was 27 when he was diagnosed with ALS in March 2012 and his ongoing fight against the disease has been relentless. Frates was named Sports Illustrated's Inspiration of the Year in 2014 and was the subject of an ESPN "SportsCenter" documentary.
BC starter Justin Dunn pledged to give his best effort of the season for the Frates' family in Game 1. The junior right-hander from Freeport, N.Y., delivered by allowing one run on five hits over seven innings with three walks and four strikeouts.
Dunn left the game with a 7-1 lead but was happy with the no-decision and team win. Dunn is projected to be a second-round selection in the upcoming MLB draft.
"Any time we are doing something for Pete, you take it to the next level," said Dunn. "I had a little bit more fire and emotion behind me (yesterday) and it helped and it worked."