On This Date in Sports May 19, 2008: No Hitting Cancer
Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox pitches a No-Hitter blanking the Kansas City Royals 7-0 at Fenway Park. Lester missed most of the 2007 season, undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Jon Lester struck out nine batters and walked two as he earned his third win of the season. The No-Hitter symbolized Lester's victory against cancer, as he pitched another 13 seasons before retiring in 2021. Jason Varitek, who caught his fourth No-Hitter, establishing a new record, hit a two-run home run.
Jon Lester was born on January 7, 1984, in Tacoma, Washington. He was named Gatorade State Player of the Year for Washington in 2000 and drafted 57th overall by the Boston Red Sox in the second round of the 2002 MLB Draft. Quickly moving through Boston's farm system, Jon Lester was part of a proposed trade for Alex Rodriguez in 2003, but the deal was rejected. Lester debuted in 2006 but suffered a series of injuries late in the year. As the season came to an end, Lester was diagnosed with enlarged lymph nodes and was being tested for a variety of ailments, including forms of cancer. A few days later, doctors confirmed that Lester had a treatable form of anaplastic large-cell lymphoma.
Once he had completed his cancer treatments, Jon Lester resumed his career by reporting to spring training. Lester spent an extensive part of the 2007 season rehabbing and rebuilding his strength. Making 11 starts in 2007, Lester won four games in the regular season and won the clinching Game 4 in the World Series against the Colorado Rockies. Fully healthy, Lester was 2-2 as he prepared for a start against the Royals on a Monday night at Fenway Park.
Jon Lester allowed a walk in the second inning but breezed through the Royals in the first three innings. In the third inning, the Red Sox scored five runs against Luke Hochevar. The rally started with two singles, as J.D. Drew scored on a double play by Julio Lugo. Jacoby Ellsbury laced a two-out triple. The next three batters walked, with Manny Ramirez forcing in a run. With the bases still loaded, Mark Grudzielanek dropped a pop-up on the infield, allowing two more runs to score. Kevin Youkilis had a ground-rule double to score a fifth run for the Red Sox.
Jon Lester continued to cruise through the middle innings as Jason Varitek hit a two-run homer to make it 7-0 in the sixth inning. With history in reach, Lester went to the mound facing one batter over the minimum due to a second-inning walk to Billy Butler. Esteban German drew a walk to start the ninth as the next two batters ground out. With two outs, Lester struck out Alberto Callaspo to complete the No Hitter.
Jon Lester would finish the season with a 16-6 record as the Red Sox reached the ALCS. He remained a critical part of the Red Sox rotation until 2014 when he was sent to the Oakland Athletics in a deadline deal. After winning the two World Series with the Red Sox, Jon Lester signed with the Chicago Cubs in 2015. In 2016, he was NLCS MVP as the Cubs made it to the World Series for the first time in 71 years. The Cubs would win the World Series ending a 108-year drought. He remained on the Cubs until 2020, finishing his career in 2021 by splitting the season between the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals. A winner of 200 games, Lester has a strong argument to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.