First Person

Sox pitcher Jon Lester plays a different kind of game

The ballplayer and cancer survivor hosts a “Hollywood Squares”-type event to raise money for pediatric cancer research.

Jon Lester and David Ortiz.
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Jon Lester (right) and David Ortiz.

You have all these runs and all these fund-raisers for breast cancer or adult forms of cancer. You don’t really see anything for pediatric cancer research. Hopefully, we can bring more awareness to it.

I’ve been through it. If people didn’t do this fund-raising back 15, 20, 30 years ago, I might not be here. That’s how I look at it. If we can continue to do the research, raise money and awareness, hopefully 10 years from now we’ll have a cure for whatever cancer a kid may have.

We’ll play three up, three down [at the event]. It’s just like Hollywood Squares. The big thing is to get my teammates to come out and have fun.


Probably my two favorite game shows are Family Feud and The Price Is Right. With the Family Feud, I might have a better chance if I were by myself. I’m an only child, so it’d be me, my wife, my dad, and my mom. We’d still need one more.

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It wouldn’t be very fun to do it with them. If I did it with a bunch of buddies, that would definitely be fun.

I feel like this clubhouse right now does a great job of making sure if the good guys are doing really well to bring them down to a humble notch. If guys are struggling a little bit, they do a good job of bringing them up. Everybody in this clubhouse feels like he’s the top dog and that he’s going to help, one way or the other, win a ballgame.

The biggest thing [with playing in Boston] is accountability, saying, “Hey, I screwed up tonight, and I’m going to make sure I don’t do it again.” And if you screw up again, you stand there in front of the camera and you say it again. You continually own up to your mistakes. That’s how you survive. —As told to Shira Springer

Interview has been edited and condensed.


JOIN IN NVRQT Night, hosted by Lester and benefiting the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation, is Monday at Boston’s House of Blues.