Former Red Sox Pitcher Ryan Dempster will Make His Marathon Debut in Boston

This year’s Boston Marathon is set to have plenty of Boston sports royalty on hand—from Big Papi serving as the race’s grand marshal to Bruins legend Zdeno Chara lacing up himself. Now, former Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster, who pitched for the Sox on the day of 2013’s tragic Boston Marathon bombing, is set to make it his first marathon. While he only pitched for one season in Boston, his last as a pro, it was a memorable one for Bostonians as he helped lead them to a World Series title.

The two-time MLB All-Star, now 45, says he has always wanted to run a marathon. He was a distance runner in high school and frequently ran during his playing days to increase his endurance, but until now, he hadn't found the right time to debut at 26.2.

Realizing the date's significance and his connection to it, he knew the 2023 Boston Marathon was the perfect opportunity to finally make his marathon dream a reality. This year marks the bombing’s 10th anniversary, and the Boston Marathon has symbolized the city's perseverance and unity.

“It seemed fitting to do it 10 years after I played for the Red Sox,” Dempster told the Boston Globe. “It was perfect.”

On April 15, 2013, Dempster limited the Tampa Bay Rays to one run across seven innings. Just 41 minutes later, two bombs detonated near the race’s finish line. Three people lost their lives, and dozens more were injured.

The Red Sox's surprising success during the season made Fenway Park a symbol of hope for the wounded city, honoring victims and first responders before games. This tradition continued through the Red Sox's World Series victory that October.

Dempster, like Chara, is running to support a charity. He’ll be raising funds for the Lingzi Foundation, which honors the memory of Lingzi Lu, one of the first victims of the bombing. “I wanted to run for charity, and somebody suggested the Lingzi Foundation,” Dempster told the Globe. “I did some research, and it was a great fit.”

Dempster says that the way baseball allowed him to have a small part in the city's recovery changed his perspective on the sport.

“I only played one season in Boston, but it feels like 10 with everything that happened that season,” Dempster said. “I’ll never forget that day.”

posted Wednesday April 12th
by Laura Ratliff