Growing up in Gibsons, Ryan Dempster dreamed of being a professional baseball player.
In high school as he watched the Toronto Blue Jays win back-to-back World Series championships, he thought to himself it would be really cool to win one of those. Fast forward 20 years later, and Dempster has won a world championship. And yes, it really is cool.
Dempster is part of the Boston Red Sox that won their eighth championship in franchise history on Wednesday night with a 6-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals for their third title in 10 years.
Dempster has had an excellent major league career, spending 15 years as a starter and a relief pitcher. He was drafted by the Texas Rangers in 1995 and played for four minor league teams. He was traded to the Florida Marlins in 1996 and made his major league debut with the Marlins in 1998. He made an all-star game appearance in 2000, and then was traded to Cincinnati in 2002.
In 2003 he had elbow surgery, which put his career on hold for a year, but he battled back, got healthy and signed a contract with the Chicago Cubs after the Reds released him, uncertain about his pitching future.
He was beloved in Chicago, embraced the city and its fan base and started his Dempster Foundation, helping to give back as much as he was given.
Life was good, but he was missing that one shot at a championship.
The Cubs made one appearance in the playoffs, but were never a solid contender in Dempsterís years in the Windy City. But he persevered and was traded to the Texas Rangers last year for a late playoff push. When the Rangers were eliminated, Dempster signed a two-year deal with the Red Sox this off-season. The stars were finally aligned, the pieces were in place, and the Red Sox went on to a miraculous worst-to-first campaign to hoist the title.
Throughout the years, we have been fortunate to interview Dempster many times ó on the stoops of his condo near Wrigley Field in Chicago and at a coffee shop in Gibsons during one of his visits home. We have witnessed his giving and selfless nature when he visited the students at Elphinstone Secondary School, speaking to a packed gymnasium and donating all the funds necessary for new school uniforms. Or when he helped open Ryan Dempster baseball field and stayed for as long as it took to ensure that everyone got a picture or a signed baseball and a chance to rub shoulders with their hometown hero.
He has worked hard, given back to the game, and throughout it all never forgotten where he came from. He is a class act, a genuinely nice guy and a wonderful ambassador for his hometown.
Congratulations, Ryan. Itís good to know that nice guys do indeed finish first.