Grandparents' love, prayers help pitcher become Series champion

Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester throws during the first inning of Game 4 of the World Series against the Colorado Rockies on Sunday at Coors Field in Denver.
Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester throws during the first inning of Game 4 of the World Series against the Colorado Rockies on Sunday at Coors Field in Denver.

LESSLIE -- About 8:30 Sunday night, after the steak and the asparagus that were right tasty and the baked beans that weren't, Dick Carver and his wife, Edie, sat down in front of the television.

So did millions of others ready to watch the Boston Red Sox try to clinch the World Series against the Colorado Rockies in Game 4.

But the millions of others, whether they were die-hard Red Sox fans from birth or Johnny-come-lately fans who back a winner, weren't the Carvers. Those millions didn't have a southpaw grandson with No. 31 on his back, the starting pitcher for the Red Sox named Jon Lester.

A grandson who, a year ago, wasn't pitching but getting radiation and chemotherapy for cancer.

"He went through it like a champion," Edie Low Carver said.

But cancer wasn't on the minds of the Carvers on Sunday night. Both are 79 years old, both on their second marriage. They were friends for more than 50 years -- they knew each other's first spouses, both became widowed then met again and became a couple. The Carvers have lived in the Rock Hill area for a little more than five years.

But that wasn't on their minds, either.

Sunday night was baseball for the Carvers, and others.

It was baseball for Northside Baptist Church members Joyce Adams and Ken Taylor, because Jon Lester, the grandson, was on the prayer list for so long at that Rock Hill church. Those prayers sure must have helped because Lester was toeing the rubber on national television, and people such as Joyce Adams had chairs pulled up close to the TV as not to miss a single pitch.

Sunday night was baseball for Edie Low Carver because she so loves the grandson she inherited when she married the grandfather. She retired years ago after years as the award-winning food and home editor at the Charlotte News and then the Charlotte Observer but didn't know a lick about baseball until she started following her new grandson, who was a star athlete from Washington state.

Now, she is a rabid fan.

The game finally started Sunday night. Dick Carver wore a Red Sox T-shirt with the name "Lester" stitched across the back, like he does for every game his grandson pitches.

"I was confident," Dick Carver said. "When Jonathan -- I call him Jonathan, even if the world calls him Jon -- has his pitches working, nobody can hit him."

Through the innings, some loud words were directed at the television. The Boston coaches and manager were subjected to second-guessing over whether Lester, an American League pitcher who normally does not bat, should bunt.

"I just wanted him to get a hit," said the person who was second-guessing.

There were maybe even a few nonabusive, graciously worded cat calls in perfect syntax for the umpires if pitches that looked to be strikes were called low or outside.

Not Dick Carver doing the second-guessing or the fuming, though.

"Her," he said. He pointed at Edie Low Carver. "She was a little worked up."

"I may have been, just a bit," she admitted.

The game progressed, and the Rockies didn't score. Inning after inning, through the sixth, Lester gave up just a few hits and a couple of walks. But no runs.

A shutout.

When Jon Lester was lifted from the game, the Red Sox were ahead. When the game ended and Boston had clinched the World Series title, the winning pitcher's name flashed on the TV screen: Jon Lester. Champagne poured over Lester's head.

Out in Lesslie, the grandparents held hands and knew prayers worked.