Blogger’s note: I’m working this week writing short features for Roy Hobbs Baseball at its World Series, which is being held in Fort Myers. The stories are being carried in The Inside Pitch.
Here is one in today’s The Inside Pitch:
Anybody wandering into JetBlue Park at 2 p.m. Sunday knew something special was happening.
Todd Conduff and Tommy Evans of the Akron Knights walked solemnly to the pitcher’s mound, holding a team jersey between them. The rest of the Knights gathered around the mound and removed their caps and then knelt. The opposing Pigs Heaven team respectfully lined up along the first base line and also knelt.
The Knights honored teammate Rob Daigle, who died on Aug. 11 of ALS at the age of 51.
Public address announcer Brian Mullen read a statement prepared by the Knights.
“Ladies and gentlemen, today the Akron Knights would like to invite you to join them in honoring their teammate and dear friend Rob Daigle,” Mullen said. “Three months ago, Rob, a pitcher for the Knights and long-time Boston Red Sox fan, lost his 16-month battle with ALS. Rob fought ALS with hope, grace, dignity and honor. He wore the Knights No. 32 with pride, passion and class.”
His number has been retired and all Knights players are wearing a patch on their jerseys to honor Daigle. Knights pitcher John Hardesty suggested the patch.
“He was a great teammate,” Conduff said of Daigle.
Daigle played eight years for the Knights, even after moving from Ohio back to his hometown of Newburyport, N.H.
Evans said his friend stood 6-foot-5.
“He had dominance on the mound and about himself,” Evans said. “But he was a gentle giant. Just a good-hearted guy. … A perfect gentleman.”
Daigle, who was an assistant baseball coach at his alma mater, Newburyport High School, loved the game
“He was a scholar of the game,” Evans said. “He was a mentor for hundreds of kids.”
Daigle married his wife, Jenny, on Nov. 8, 2014.
“He married an angel on Earth,” Evans said.
On June 5, 2015 the Newburyport News carried a story about Daigle.
“I have extreme passion for my baseball and I know that I can’t give everything I can, especially to the team,” Daigle told the paper. “I can’t get out there and hit them fly balls or hit ground balls. The energy level is very low and it’s a death sentence, I know that.”
But he fought the death sentence as long as he could. On Sunday, Rob Daigle was remembered and honored.