FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
Boston College head baseball coach Mike Gambino continues a tradition he started his first year at the Heights in 2011 by selecting a current player to wear No. 8 in honor of former player Peter “Sonny” Nictakis. Each season, a player who has battled adversity and represents the best qualities of BC Baseball will wear Sonny’s old number.
Gambino announced that senior captain Tom Bourdon will don No. 8 for the 2014 season. He made the announcement at Baseball Night in Boston, held at Fenway Park’s State Street Pavilion on Wednesday night.
Sonny was a two-time captain for the Eagles in 1998-99 and lost his courageous battle with Hodgkin’s disease in the summer of 2000. Until last season, his No. 8 had not been worn since 1999. In 2011, Gambino tabbed senior outfielder Mike Sudol to be the first to wear the number.
“Bringing Sonny’s No. 8 back is something that is very important to me and one of the first things I wanted to do as head coach,” Gambino said. “Wearing his number will be the biggest honor a player can receive in our program. It will be given to one player each year – the one that best shows the qualities that made Sonny such a great teammate, great leader and great friend.
“When we think about what we want in this program and the type of kids we want to represent BC baseball, Sonny was the embodiment of all those qualities: hard worker, great teammate, leader, unselfish, committed to being great at everything he did,” Gamnbino added. “He handled adversity, never complained and held himself and everyone around him to an incredibly high standard. Sonny didn’t care whether or not anyone liked him. He had true confidence in himself because of the morals and values instilled in him by his family and he had the integrity to always do the right thing. And that’s part of why everyone loved him.”
Sonny’s two-year captaincy proved what a leader he was. He earned the 1998 Jeff Keith Athletic Leadership Award and the 1996-97 baseball team leadership award. Sonny also served as the president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. He graduated from BC in 1999 with a double major in English and theology. After graduation, he took a job with the Boston Red Sox. In the summer of 2000, Sonny lost his courageous seven-and-a-half year battle with Hodgkin’s disease.
His spirit lives on in the BC baseball community with the Sonny Nictakis Fall World Series that is played every year.
Bourdon is starting his second year as a captain, earning the honor as a junior as well. The centerfielder has played in 139 games in the Maroon and Gold, including making 135 starts. He holds a .288 career batting average and has driven in 61 runs. Last year, Bourdon played 35 games before an arm injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year. In 2012, he garnered All-ACC second-team, ABCA All-Northeast Region first-team and NEIBA All-Star honors. He led the Eagles in eight offensive categories as a sophomore, including batting average (.324), slugging percentage (.529) and hits (79). He earned spots in the BC record book by tying for fourth for single-season hits and 10th for home runs (10).
The Simsbury Conn., native arrived at the Heights after being drafted in the 38th round in the 2010 MLB First-Year Players Draft by the Boston Red Sox. As the everyday centerfielder, Bourdon’s freshman campaign included ranked third on the Eagles with a .289 batting average and leading the squad with six stolen bases. He also notched 17 RBIs, 20 runs scored and reached base 52 percent of the time when he led off an inning.
“It is an honor to wear the number eight,” Bourdon said. “Sonny is such an important part of our program. Each and every day we hear about his passion, character that he had and the type of person he was and we just try to emulate that.”
“I am extremely excited to have Tommy wear number 8 this year. I haven’t been around too many players that have been so universally respected by their teammates,” Gambino said. “His character and work ethic have earned him the respect of the coaching staff and his teammates alike. Being voted captain by his team two years in a row says a lot, but what’s even more impressive is to see then number of votes he got each year. It speaks volumes to the type of person and leader he is. I believe Sonny would be very proud to see Tommy wearing his number.”
Diamond Club member Greg Fulginite presented Bill Nictakis, Sonny’s brother, with the Eddie Pellagrini Award. The award is given to someone who gives back to the BC baseball program. Nictakis helps serve the program in various ways, including helping with resources and the Team Frate Train gear that is given out and sold to raise ALS awareness and promote the Pete Frates #3 Fund.
No. 8 Recipients
2011 – Mike Sudol
2012 – Kyle Prohovich
2013 – Matt Paré
2014 – Tom Bourdon