January 11, 2014 at 5:12 PM
BOSTON, Mass. -- Saturday was the ninth New Stars for Young Stars event at Jillian’s Boston, the annual Jimmy Fund fundraiser that gives fans a chance to meet and get autographs from some of their favorite Red Sox players, present and future. Prospects in attendance were pitchers Drake Britton and Rubby De La Rosa (pictured) along with infielder Mookie Betts and catcher Blake Swihart. Newly signed Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski was also in town for the event.
There were autograph sessions, a silent auction, and a bowling contest to help strike out cancer during the main event, but the real charity went on behind closed doors beforehand. In the morning, the players mingled and shot pool with patients from the Jimmy Fund Clinic and their families. Wally the Green Monster even made an appearance to shoot pool and take pictures.
"It's a great event for the kids to be out here," Britton said. "I think it gives them some ease from the pain or whatever they're going through. It's also good for us, and the people who run it, to see them smile brings a smile to our faces. So it's good for both of us."
This year marked the second one in a row for Swihart. One of the event's organizers, Scott Shuster from the Jimmy Fund Council of Greater Boston, had glowing praise for the 21-year-old.
"In the nine years we’ve done this, Blake’s one of the greatest kids we’ve ever had," Shuster said. "He was great last year with the kids and affirmatively reached out to come back again this year, and we really appreciate it."
"I love this thing," said Swihart. "To see the kids smile, it puts a smile on my face. The kids have fun with it, so I have fun with it. It’s just a great event, so I enjoy coming to this."
For Betts, it was the first time attending this event, but he enjoyed some similar experiences he had before signing as a professional.
"It's huge," he said when asked what being a part of the event meant to him personally. "I did some things like this when I was in high school and you know it's really fun. We're out here shooting pool and getting to bowl with [the children]. It's just fun getting to meet new people."
The event was a definite success for the players and children, who all left with smiles on their faces.
Keep an eye out for more content from the interviews to be posted in the coming days.
Photo Credit: Rubby De La Rosa by Matt Huegel
Matt Huegel is Managing Editor for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattHuegelSP. Chris Hatfield also contributed to this story.