Mike Andrews, a perennial All-Star for the Jimmy Fund
Honor Mike with a gift to the '#2 Fund'
There is no jersey retirement ceremony planned at Fenway Park, but the No. 2 Mike Andrews wore as an All-Star second baseman for the Boston Red Sox will be remembered in a very significant way – one that recognizes the important role Andrews played during his long "second career" fighting cancer in children and adults.
Andrews, who stepped down at the end of 2009 after more than 30 years as Chairman of Dana-Farber's Jimmy Fund, has been acknowledged by his former colleagues with the establishment of the "#2 Fund" in his honor. The fund, which will aid pediatric cancer research at Dana-Farber in perpetuity, resulted in more than $140,000 in contributions from Dana-Farber staff, trustees, donors, volunteers, and other friends, as well as a generous match from the Yawkey Foundation, before being made public in March 2010. Even Andrews himself, who has always been very modest about his baseball and fundraising accomplishments, did not know about the fund's creation until several days before leaving his chairman's post. In an e-mail to those who had already contributed, he called it "the perfect retirement gift."
During his long association with both organizations, Andrews has symbolized the special relationship between the Jimmy Fund and the Red Sox, a bond which began after the Boston Braves – the National League baseball club that fostered the early days of the Dana-Farber charity, starting in 1948 – moved to Milwaukee five years later.
Andrews' connection to the cause began during his rookie year on the Red Sox' 1967 "Impossible Dream Team," when he met the first of many young Dana-Farber patients he would come to know over the years. The boy's positive attitude in the face of his terminal disease touched Andrews, who further learned of the team's commitment to the charity when it voted unanimously to give a full share of its 1967 World Series bonus money to the Jimmy Fund in honor of team owners and staunch Dana-Farber supporters Tom and Jean Yawkey.
In 1979, after he retired from baseball and started a career in the insurance industry, Andrews accepted a part-time leadership role with the Jimmy Fund at the request of Ken Coleman, who then chaired the charity while also serving as radio voice of the Red Sox. The first year the pair worked together, they raised approximately $1 million to help further pediatric and adult cancer care and research at Dana-Farber. Inspired, Andrews left insurance behind and transitioned into a full-time position heading the Jimmy Fund upon Coleman's retirement.
'Tenacity and vision'
The impact Andrews had as head of the organization was felt immediately. Major Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber fundraisers including the Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk, Jimmy Fund Golf tournaments, and the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon all started with him at the helm, becoming popular annual events enjoyed by thousands of supporters. All told, there are now more than 550 fundraising events each year that benefit the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber.
During Andrews last year as chairman, the Jimmy Fund raised $64 million for Dana-Farber. While it's impossible to fully measure the impact of his work, which also included countless speeches, golf tournament appearances, and print, radio, and television interviews through the years, Dana-Farber President Edward J. Benz Jr., MD, notes: "Mike Andrews' tireless fundraising efforts have helped to dramatically raise survival rates for cancer patients."
Others agree, including one former Dana-Farber patient who also has a strong link to both the cancer center and the Red Sox: Larry Lucchino. "When Mike Andrews hung up his baseball cleats, he took his talent and competitive spirit and applied it to beating a foe much more formidable than any Fenway Park will ever see," says Lucchino, Red Sox President/CEO, Dana-Farber trustee, and co-chair of Mission Possible: The Dana-Farber Campaign to Conquer Cancer. "Through his tenacity and vision over the last 30 years, he has had a gigantic impact on the lives of countless adults, children, and families who have been treated at Dana-Farber."
In considering his own legacy, Andrews says he is proud that two out of three people diagnosed with cancer today can expect to be alive in five years, compared to only one of two diagnosed in 1975.
"I'm a lucky guy to have had the chance to play professional baseball for 13 years and to appear in a couple of World Series," says Andrews. "But there is no question that being part of Dana-Farber has been the most rewarding part of my professional life."
Other players will wear No. 2 for the Red Sox now and into the future, but when Boston fans take a look at the Jimmy Fund logo on the Green Monster, they will always be able to thank Mike Andrews for both of his successful careers.
– Saul Wisnia