BOSTON -- Josh Beckett traded in a baseball for a bowling ball and threw strikes for charity on Monday night.
Beckett and his Red Sox teammates gathered at Jillian's Lucky Strike Lanes across the street from Fenway Park on Monday for the sixth-annual Beckett Bowl. The event, organized by The Josh Beckett Foundation, supports community-based programs for children who are seriously ill, disabled and underprivileged. The Beckett Bowl has donated more than $1 million to Boston Children's Hospital.
"It's hard to believe it's been six years," Beckett said. "Just the community, these kids, it's hitting a little close to home now, having a baby daughter. She's so healthy and I feel very blessed. It's tough to watch that stuff, but I think that the main thing that really got me involved in this was the outlook of the families. They must be the strongest people in the world.
"One family, their son David was born with a brain tumor, and he lived to be 14. The doctors told them that he wouldn't live to be 1, and their outlook was they got to spend 14 more years with him and that's why it's so important to raise money and help."
Starting pitcher Jon Lester first experienced the Beckett Bowl as a rookie in 2007. He hasn't missed the evening ever since.
"It's always been good, always had a good time coming to it, and it's for a good cause," Lester said. "It's a good event. It's great, anything that involves kids. I think kids always have a soft spot in everybody's heart and it's fun to come out here and mingle with the kids, especially the kids that get to come from the hospital and have a good time."
The event featured a celebrity bowling tournament with members of the Red Sox, as well as several soccer players from the New England Revolution, Boston Bruins left wing Shawn Thornton and former New England Patriots running back Kevin Faulk. There was a silent auction with Red Sox memorabilia and a country music concert next door at the House of Blues to conclude the night.
"It's great, we get to raise a lot of money for a good cause," right-hander Clay Buchholz said. "Any time that the guys on the team can help and come out and show their support, I think that's the biggest thing. Being with the Red Sox it's a huge deal to a lot of people in this town and the kids, too. We try to help them get through some tough times."
While most of the Red Sox admitted they weren't as skilled in a bowling alley as they are on a baseball diamond, catcher Ryan Lavarnway enjoyed the opportunity to display his talents.
"I'm actually a pretty good bowler," Lavarnway said. "It's kind of my thing to do with my dad, we used to go once a week when I was in high school. I'm real excited."
Left-hander Andrew Miller was glad to be a part of the fundraiser for the second straight year.
"I got to come last year and enjoy it and any time you get to be involved in something like this it's nice," Miller said. "It's a good cause and that's what's important."
For outfielder Cody Ross, Monday was his first experience at the Beckett Bowl.
"It's a great cause and it's always nice to get days like this to spend and do it for the right reason," Ross said. "This is what it's all about: giving back."
Funds raised by the Beckett Bowl helped open The Josh Beckett Cancer Treatment Room at Boston's Children's Hospital in 2009.