LEWISTON — When Dave Turcotte tosses out the first pitch at Fenway Park in Boston on Friday night, he will wear a custom baseball jersey with No. 34 on the back, the number of his favorite player – retired slugger David Ortiz – and the number of years since he has thrown a baseball.

Dave Turcotte of Lewiston at Fenway Park during Game 6 in the Boston Red Sox’s World Series run in 2013. Turcotte’s friend, Dan Cunliff II, surprised him by telling him he’d be throwing out the first pitch Friday when the Sox face the Minnesota Twins.

Turcotte, 52, was an all-star pitcher at Edward Little High School in Auburn whose sports career was ended by multiple sclerosis in college, when he became paralyzed from the waist down.

He is a die-hard Red Sox fan, and started warming up his arm again after friend and former classmate Dan Cunliffe II told Turcotte he would be throwing out the first pitch when the Red Sox face the Minnesota Twins.

Cunliffe redeemed Major League Baseball Extra Bases credit card rewards points for the experience as soon as he saw it offered online. He said he knew right away he would give it to Turcotte. The pair have tried to catch at least one game together at Fenway for years.

“It’s been 34 years since I’ve thrown a ball 60 feet, 6 inches,” Turcotte said, referring to the distance from the pitcher’s mound to home plate. “I was very happy, of course. I was surprised, but he’s so generous.”

Cunliffe surprised him five years ago with Game 6 playoff tickets.


He and Cunliffe have tossed a baseball around outside to practice. Turcotte is up to about 20 feet.

“He can throw nice and straight,” Cunliffe said. “Nobody wants to throw a wild pitch and be embarrassed.”

Turcotte said he is “very rusty,” excited and nervous. He has heard from former classmates who will be at the game watching from the stands, and from people who plan to watch on TV.

“He’s very positive. Never a sourpuss, never down, just Mr. Positive,” said Cunliffe, who threw out the first pitch at a Red Sox game about 10 years ago.

It is nerve-wracking to have all those eyes on you, he said. “I’m excited for him – he’s a great guy.”

Kathryn Skelton can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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