by Kevin Ransom aka spoodini

It was late in the dog days of summer of the 2006 Major League Baseball season. I had restarted my collecting of baseball cards only about a year prior focusing on my beloved Red Sox whom I had been cheering for since I had my first Red Sox jersey at 3 months old. I had put together a nice little collection of rookies and game used cards and was looking toward picking up some of the newer prospects autographs for my collection. One night I was checking the newest Red Sox team news online when I saw a headline that I just could not fathom: “(Jon) Lester has treatable form of lymphoma”. I could not believe what I had read, the up and coming starting pitcher for the Red Sox at 22 years old has cancer. I, myself, being only 20 years old at the time, had a sick feeling in my stomach. I had a scare with the possibilities of this disease a couple of months earlier and luckily I passed the tests they put me through. But learning someone else, about my age, had to deal with this affliction hurt me inside. As a fan, I wanted to support him the best I could but in reality the best you can do is just wish for the best.

Deep down, I knew he could beat this. It was a highly treatable form of cancer, he was young and athletic, and had the best doctors in the country. At the time I had only one card of Lester worth noting, his “true” rookie card – 2002 UD Prospect Premieres. But I wanted something better: I wanted an autograph of a guy who was going to beat cancer and hopefully pitch again one day. I pulled some money together and searched the best I could for a Bowman Chrome rookie autograph of him. I searched high and low and waited a couple of weeks to pull the trigger on the one I wanted in my price range. I finally pulled that trigger and a few days later it arrived in the mail. It was a beautiful sight to see. Crisp and smooth autograph and beautiful colors from the refractor coating, it was exactly what I wanted to base my collection of him, my Red Sox collection, and everything else I have off of. I finally received a card that I could look at and say not only is he a great pitcher, but he is a real fighter and someone everyone can look up to.

A year later, Jon Lester went to the mound for his first game back from beating cancer and won that game while pitching out of a few jams, showing his great poise and perseverance. Later in 2007, he played the biggest game of his career to that point and shined. He gave up 0 runs in 5 2/3 innings in Game Four of the 2007 World Series. Jon Lester earned that victory which clinched the 2007 World Series championship for the Red Sox. Early the following May, he pitched his first career no hitter against the Kansas City Royals. Today, he is one of the best left handed pitchers in the game of baseball and earned his first All-Star nomination this year. The sky is still the limit for Jon Lester as his future looks bright. He has been an inspiration to people everywhere no matter what team you root for in baseball. If this kid could comeback from cancer and win a World Series clinching game and throw a no-hitter soon after, it makes you wonder what could I or anyone else do?

This card is the most valuable to me in my whole collection of sports cards and will be more valuable to me then any card I get in the future as well. If I am in a rut, if I am in need of motivation, if I feel like I need some inspiration, I look over from my desk into a glass cabinet. Inside that glass cabinet, front and center, sits Jon Lester’s rookie autograph. I look at it and feel like I could conquer any obstacle put in front of me.