BOSTON (BVM) – A day at the ballpark is usually considered as good fun for the entire family to enjoy. This is what Tom Keane was hoping for on Aug. 7, 1982, when he brought his two oldest boys out to watch the local Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park. Unfortunately, the family wouldn’t have the joyful day at the park they had hoped.
In the fourth inning, Red Sox second baseman Dave Stapleton ripped a line-drive foul ball just above the first base dugout. Tom Keane thought the ball had hit the dugout, just feet in front of his seat, but when he heard the screams of his four-year-old son, Jonathan, he knew that wasn’t the case. Jonathan had taken the impact of the ball just above his eye and blood began to gush from his face.
As the Fenway crowd stood still and silent, it was future Red Sox Hall of Famer Jim Rice who sprang into action. The left fielder left the dugout and grabbed the young child, bringing him back down near the Red Sox bench so he could be looked at by the team’s medical professionals. While Jonathan would need emergency surgery and spent five days in the hospital after the incident, his life was saved in large part by Rice’s quick thinking.
Jim Rice goes into the stands to help 4-yr-old boy struck by a line drive. 1982 pic.twitter.com/gUn0nSJC14
— Baseball In Pics (@baseballinpix) January 14, 2022
Fast forward 40 years, Rice and Jonathan are still connected after the incident. Rice played seven more seasons in Boston following the incident, finishing his 16-year career playing only for the Red Sox with 2,089 games played, batting .298 with 381 home runs and 1,451 RBIs in his illustrious career. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009.
Though he accomplished many great feats during his time in Fenway, perhaps no moment is more recognizable than Rice carrying the bloodied boy to the dugout in a photo that was captured by the Boston Globe.
Jonathan has also lived a great life, especially considering the fate he could’ve had after that August day in 1982. For Opening Day in 1983, the Red Sox invited the Keane family back to Fenway so Jonathan could throw out the ceremonial first pitch. During the game, Jonathan met Rice for the first time, having no memory of the incident that tied the two together forever.
Now age 44, Jonathan lives in North Carolina after graduating from North Carolina State in 2000 with a degree in business management. He is the CEO and co-founder of CustomerHD, a Raleigh-based customer service company that he has helped operate for nearly five years. He is married, funnily enough to a nurse, and the couple has three children.
For Jonathan, though he does not remember the moment, he will always remember the day and date that he would forever be tied to a Red Sox legend. Now, the two can celebrate a day where one man’s quick actions of kindness helped save a young boy’s life.