Little League® International remembers Beverly (Mass.) Little Leaguer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (A.L.S.) advocate Pete Frates. He was 34.
Mr. Frates brought heightened awareness and national attention to A.L.S. Through his novel idea and participation in the Ice Bucket Challenge, Mr. Frates helped to raise more than $100 million toward fighting A.L.S., commonly referred to as Lou Gehring’s disease.
In 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge made it way to Williamsport, Pa., and the Little League Baseball® World Series, as ESPN SportsCenter personalities Jay Crawford and Chris McKendry, along with LLBWS color analyst, Nomar Garciaparra participated. ESPN’s Jaymee Sire also challenged Dugout, the official mascot of Little League, to participate in the challenge.
Mr. Frates grew up playing for in Beverly Little League. As a 10-year-old Little Leaguer, Mr. Frates chose No. 3 for his uniform number, which Yankees’ legend Babe Ruth wore, and he kept the number all his life. Mr. Ruth’s Yankees teammate was Mr. Gehrig who Mr. Frates is quoted as saying inspired him every day.
Mr. Frates played baseball, football, and hockey while attending St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Massachusetts. He later attended Boston College University, where he was a standout baseball player, captaining the Eagles during his senior year (2007).
Five years after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Communications, Mr. Frates joined the Boston College baseball team as the Director of Baseball Operations. A position he held until his passing. That same year (2012), he was diagnosed with A.L.S.
Mr. Frates spent the remainder of his life educating and inspiring others. The ailment affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. It became known as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the New York Yankees’ great was diagnosed in 1939. It does not have a cure or an effective treatment to halt or reverse progression. Life expectancy after symptoms are displayed is three to five years.
In the years since being diagnosed with A.L.S., Mr. Frates was recognized as Inspiration of the Year by Sports Illustrated (Dec. 2014); and the ESPN SportsCenter documentary detailing his journey was nominated for an Emmy. Two years, later (Dec. 2016), he was presented with the NCAA Inspiration Award by NCAA President Dr. Mark Emmert. In the Spring of 2017, the bucket he used for his own Ice Bucket Challenge at Fenway Park, along with memorabilia from his playing days at Boston College, were donated to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Here is an excerpt from the Frates family’s statement:
“Remarkably, Pete never complained about his illness. Instead, he saw it as an opportunity to give hope to other patients and their families. In his lifetime, he was determined to change the trajectory of a disease that had no treatment or cure. As a result, through his determination—along with his faithful supporters, Team Frate Train—he championed the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.”
Mr. Frates is survived by his wife, Julie; daughter, Lucy; parents, John and Nancy; brother, Andrew, and sister, Jennifer.