Before I go any further with this story, it needs to be known that I’m the biggest Yankee fan that I know. Picture your prototypical Yankee fan: loud, passionate, arrogant, rude, and knowledgeable. I detest the Red Sox with every fiber in my body.

But, during the Red Sox-Angels game on Tuesday, August 17, 2010 something special happened. It is something that is very special to me, and perhaps not yet special to the world. But, this is something that must be told. Darnell McDonald hit his eighth home run of the season.

One may ask why it is so special to this Yankee fan. Yes, if you didn’t believe me when I said it, I am a Yankee fan. I am happy that this home run was hit when it was.

Before I get into why that home run was special to me, and others around me, I will tell a quick background story.

Back on May 31, 2007, one of my dearest friends and teammates passed away. Andrew J. Gauthier, No. 8. He lost a long and hard fought battle to cancer, namely leukemia. He was only a sophomore in high school. A great hockey player and a Red Sox fan.

A kid who would do anything for anyone. He fought to beat that disease just so the people close to him would not be saddened and hurt with his passing. He fought for us, not for himself. He is truly the toughest and most selfless individual I have ever met.

His number in hockey was No. 8. And, in Warwick, Rhode Island, where we are from, the N. 8 is seen everywhere. It is a number that can be spotted out by anyone who was close to him. It is as if he is sending us signs that he is still here. And he is still with us because “No. 8 lives forever” in our hearts.

Personally, a strong signal came at my grandfathers funeral. It was a military funeral, so it is common for volleys to be shot off in honor of the one who passed. There were three men shooting off volleys, and there were three rounds, totaling nine bullets. After the fact, only eight were found. Those eight were presented to my grandmother.

My family broke down. Eight were recovered. Not the full nine. Eight. Just as if the ninth disappeared into thin air. It was without a doubt Andrew telling us that my grandfather was in heaven, with him, safe.

That saying, “No. 8 lives forever” is a saying that is a constant in my, and the Andrew J. Gauthier community. We say it to ourselves on a daily basis. We remind ourselves that our dear friend is still with us today.

If one pays a visit to Rhode Island, one will see some of his bumper magnets for cars. They read “Number 8 lives forever: Andrew J. Gauthier.” They are a staple around Rhode Island because it seems everyone has one. Andrew touched that many people.

Back to the home run. As I previously stated, Andrew always send us signals that he is alright. And, it involves the number eight. At first, the home run didn’t mean anything to me. I didn’t even see it live. I was, of course rooting for the Angels that game. I hate the Red Sox. Absolutely hate them. But, Andrew did not, and he always made sure that he told me that the Yankees stunk (substitute stunk for another word).

The Red Sox ended up winning the game, and I was not happy. But, it was not until later that night, in fact much later that night that I realized something. My friend was the one who pointed out this to me.

McDonald’s home run sailed over the green monster, and hit a car windshield. The baseball completely destroyed it.

On the car was one of Andrew’s bumper magnets. I was in shock. “Number 8 lives forever: Andrew J. Gauthier” was seen on national television.

Naturally, I was happy to see it, but still unhappy that McDonald had hit the home run.

I later learned that it was McDonald’s eighth home run of the season. My jaw dropped. It was his eighth home run of the season, and it struck a car with his magnet on it.

Then, I learned something else. Before that home run was hit, Jered Weaver retired the first Red Sox hitters he had faced. Another eight. My jaw dropped even further, almost through the floor.

I couldn’t believe it. I was thrilled. Words cannot describe the feeling that I had when I learned all of this. Andrew was indeed sending us another signal. This time it was through his Red Sox.

Also, it was hit on the August 17. Seven plus one adds up to eight. August is the eighth month of the year.

To many, it may have been just another home run that hit a car with a magnet on it. To me, and my friends and family, it meant something else. Something very special.

Andrew was a special young man. He had a funny way about him when he was with us.

Wait, let me rephrase that. He is still with us. He is with us all in our hearts. He just sent us another very powerful signal that he is still with us. And, it was done in typical Andrew fashion. With the number eight.

I see eights everywhere I go, so I see Andrew everywhere I go. It goes to show that when someone passes away, they are never gone. They truly live on forever.

This is the only Red Sox home run that I am, and ever will be, happy for. I am sure that Andrew still does not believe me when I write this, knowing my extreme love for the Yankees. I never thought that I would be happy for a Red Sox home run in my life. It is a truly special home run to me.

I will leave you with this final thought. The number eight has a funny way of showing itself. It will show itself in the most obscure ways. Now, for everyone reading this, whether you knew Andrew of not, you will now start to see eights everywhere. It is Andrew, my dear friend and teammate.

“Number 8 lives forever.” In memory of Andrew J. Gauthier. He was also born on Christmas, one more little tidbit about this special individual.


Check out Steve Henn’s blog, RI Yankees Beat.

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