It takes more than courage to cure cancer

 

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August 19, 2009
Mike Andrews marks 30 years in 'second' career with the Jimmy Fund

Mike Andrews pitches for the Jimmy Fund during the 2005 WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon.

Mike Andrews pitches for the Jimmy Fund during the 2005 WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon.

The Impossible Dream was just being hatched when Red Sox rookie second baseman Mike Andrews first met with a young patient from Dana-Farber before a 1967 game. Andrews spoke to the boy briefly about his desire to return to Little League once his cancer fight was over, and then hurried out to the field for warm-ups. Shortly thereafter, he was told that the child was not going to make it.

"I realized right then that an 0-for-4 day at the plate doesn't mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things," says Andrews. This and future interactions made such an impact on him that once his playing career was over, he accepted an offer to come work at Dana-Farber's Jimmy Fund charity. Thirty years later, most of them spent as the Jimmy Fund chairman, he's still there helping assure that all children — and all adults — have the best chance possible to beat cancer.

"Most professional athletes get to the end of their careers and they say, 'OK, what am I going to do now?' They have no experience other than sports, and never find something to take its place," explains Andrews, who looks decades younger than his 66 years. "I did — and in my case my second career surpassed the first."

The circumstances of Andrews making that transition are an example of the special relationship between the Red Sox and the Jimmy Fund, one of the team's official charities since 1953. He was hired by his predecessor as chairman, Ken Coleman, who in those days often went straight from his Dana-Farber office down the street to his "night job" as the radio voice of the Red Sox. Andrews has wonderful memories of the '67 American League Championship season and a World Series title with the 1973 Oakland A's, but the former All-Star feels being at Fenway for events like the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon far outweigh anything he did there as a player.

"When I look at where Dana-Farber was when I started, in terms of recovery rates and treatment methods, and where we are now, it's a great motivator," he says. "We still have a long way to go, and we still lose too many people. But we've made tremendous strides."

— Saul Wisnia
saul_wisnia@dfci.harvard.edu

This story appears in the August 2009 issue of Red Sox Magazine.