Jan. 23, 2013
Boston, Mass. - Boston College head baseball coach Mike Gambino continues a tradition he started his first year at the Heights in 2011 by selecting a current player to wear No. 8 in honor of former player Peter "Sonny" Nictakis. Each season, a player who has battled adversity and represents the best qualities of BC Baseball will wear Sonny's old number.
Gambino announced that senior captain Matt Paré will don No. 8 for the 2013 season. He made the announcement at Baseball Night, held at Fenway Park's State Street Pavillion on Wednesday night.
Sonny was a two-time captain for the Eagles in 1998-99 and lost his courageous battle with Hodgkin's disease in the summer of 2000. Until last season, his No. 8 had not been worn since 1999. In 2011, Gambino tabbed senior outfielder Mike Sudol to be the first to wear the number.
"Bringing Sonny's No. 8 back is something that is very important to me and one of the first things I wanted to do as head coach," Gambino said at last year's Baseball Night. "Wearing his number will be the biggest honor a player can receive in our program. It will be given to one player each year - the one that best shows the qualities that made Sonny such a great teammate, great leader and great friend.
"When we think about what we want in this program and the type of kids we want to represent BC baseball, Sonny was the embodiment of all those qualities: hard worker, great teammate, leader, unselfish, committed to being great at everything he did," Gamnbino added. "He handled adversity, never complained and held himself and everyone around him to an incredibly high standard. Sonny didn't care whether or not anyone liked him. He had true confidence in himself because of the morals and values instilled in him by his family and he had the integrity to always do the right thing. And that's part of why everyone loved him."
Sonny's two-year captaincy proved what a leader he was. He earned the 1998 Jeff Keith Athletic Leadership Award and the 1996-97 baseball team leadership award. Sonny also served as the president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. He graduated from BC in 1999 with a double major in English and theology. After graduation, he took a job with the Boston Red Sox. In the summer of 2000, Sonny lost his courageous seven-and-a-half year battle with Hodgkin's disease.
His spirit lives on in the BC baseball community with the Sonny Nictakis Fall World Series that is played every year.
Paré has played 136 games for the Eagles, including 128 starts. Last year, after a knee injury cut short his sophomore season, he started 43 games behind the plate and led the Maroon and Gold with a .411 on-base percentage and was second on the team with 24 walks. He recorded the third-best slugging percentage (.427) in ACC games and the second-most runs (18) in league contests. The left-handed catcher also caught 18 base runners stealing and made his first career error after 235 chances. He was named to the Athletics Director's Award of Academic Achievement.
Arriving at the Heights from Lighthouse Points, Fla., where he was drafted in the 26th round of the 2009 MLB First-Year Players Draft by the Houston Astros, Paré had a great freshman campaign, starting all 58 games, mostly as the designed hitter. He batted over .300 until the last month of the season, finishing the year at .259. He led the team is on-base percentage (.422) and walks (35). Over the summer, he earned the New England Top Prospect Award in the Cape Cod Baseball League. Paré also earned all-state honors at Deering High School in Maine as a junior and led the Rams to the Class A State Championship.
"It's an honor to wear the number eight," Paré said. "It's a privilege after everything I have heard about Sonny and his integrity. It means a lot that my teammates would elect me to wear this number and I really appreciate it. I really want to thank Coach Gambino and the entire coaching staff for always pushing me in the right direction."
"Matt has, from the day I met him, showed incredible integrity and character" Gambino said. "He has learned to handle adversity on and off the field and it has been awesome watching him grow and develop into a very good leader. He's humble, respectful and has a work ethic and drive to be great on the field and in the classroom."
Director of baseball operations Pete Frates was also honored as Diamond Club president Tom Casey presented the 2007 BC graduate with the Eddie Pellagrini Award. The award is given to someone who gives back to the BC baseball program. Frates started the Baseball Mentor Night, which allows former players to speak to and connect with current players. Aside from raising awareness and funds for ALS, which is he currently fighting, Frates also strives to improve the alumni network and work with the current players at the Heights. During his speech, he urged those in attendance to be passionate BC fans and supporters and get to know the players on and off the field.