It was the off-day between the Tampa and Detroit series last October, an off-day for most players. Two or three stopped by Fenway, but by 5 p.m. they had left. I was there to do a couple of live hits from the MLB Network camera at the visiting dugout, waiting in the dugout, when Ryan Dempster and his father Wally walked out onto the field, gloves in hands.

They began to play catch, and when I had finished a hit, Wally came over. “All my life I’ve wanted to play catch with my son in Fenway Park,” he said. “This is a dream come true.”

Wally got to sip and spray champagne at the end of the Tiger and Cardinal series. He was out there on the field at 2 am after the final game with St. Louis as Ryan threw BP to family and friends.
But the lifelong dream had been fulfilled. Wally Dempster played catch with his kid Ryan in Fenway Park. When I texted Ryan yesterday to express how glad I am to have witnessed that moment. He texted back, “so am I.”

This is who the Dempsters from Gibsons, British Columbia are. To get to baseball practices, Ryan would take a ferry, then ride a bus, to and from. He’s a smart guy who was recruited by and accepted to Notre Dame, but when he was drafted, he signed. Years later, a popular figure on the north side of Chicago, he approached me on a Friday—as I was preparing for the Sunday Night Game—to talk about Geovany Soto, and how he was helping the pitchers and getting no credit. “Anything you say about him would really help his psyche,” said Dempster. “He deserves it.”

Sunday, Ryan Dempster told the world of the decision he’d made a couple of weeks earlier, that he is not going to pitch this season for physical and personal reasons. He had told Ben Cherington, and made it clear he was not asking for anything. “Not everyone would have handled it this way,” says Cherington. Many would have cited neck issues and gone to the disabled list and found a way to get some or all of the $13.5M owed to him for 2014.

“I am at peace with my decision,” he texted. He told Cherington and John Farrell that this way he was at peace with himself. He paid $13.5M for that peace, for that dignity.