By Roy Reiss
Meet Anne and Dave Nastasi of Centerville, MA. They housed some 27 players for the Cotuit Kettleers from the late 1990’s to 2008. There are many memories and stories from that time frame but one player stands out.
Steve Pearce, hero for the 2018 Boston Red Sox in their championship World Series performance, still maintains an extremely close relationship with the Nastasi’s after all these years.
“Steve is a testament to perseverance,” says Anne as she sits at the kitchen table and recollects all the memories from 2004. “Steve really was attached to our youngest son, Willie as they played whiffle ball every morning that summer. I remember one day Willie wasn’t around when Steve woke up and he came into the kitchen saying how come Willie’s not here.”
Dave will never forget the first time he met Pearce. “I went to T.F. Green Airport in Rhode Island to pick him up and this youngster comes up to me and says are you Dave? You betta love the Red Sox because I’m the biggest Sox fan.” Little did the University of South Carolina product know that Dave was a Red Sox season ticket holder back then.
Yet there’s tremendous irony around Pearce who had just completed his junior year and came to Cotuit after several games had already been played. The season started out with the Kettleers having left handed fireman Tony Sipp on their roster and his house parents just happened to be Anne and Dave Nastasi.
The Clemson product was one of the early sensations in the Cape League as he appeared in 5 games, pitched 18 innings, allowed 2 earned runs while striking out 21 with an earned run average of 1.00. His eye-popping performance led him to sign a contract with the Cleveland Indians shortly after the 2004 Cape season started. The Nastasi’s were suddenly without a player to house. Two days later Dave was on his way South to Providence to pick up Pearce at the airport.
Fourteen years later on an October night Dave Nastasi thinks some sort of history was made. “Here I am on my living room couch watching the Red Sox and Astros in the American League Championship Series. It’s late in Game 4 and Tony Sipp is pitching and who comes up to the plate but Steve Pearce. Here’s two guys who lived in the same house during the same summer, slept in the same bed as one followed the other to our house and they’re opposing each other in a Major League Championship Series. I wonder if that’s ever happened before?” asked the Centerville resident.
The irony doesn’t stop with Sipp. Remember Pearce said he was the biggest Red Sox fan when he met Dave at the airport. Following that season the Sox who had drafted Pearce attempted to sign him. “I remember vividly Steve sitting at the kitchen table with our telephone talking with his father, his advisor and the Red Sox. He was one of their biggest fans yet they couldn’t agree on a contract then,” recalled Nastasi. However, Pearce didn’t let that dampen his enthusiasm for the Sox several months later. When they rallied from a 3-0 deficit to oust the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, the Nastasi’s phone began ringing off the hook. It was Steve Pearce asking Dave which airport he should fly into so they could attend a World Series game since Dave was a season ticket holder! They would go to Game One at Fenway Park.
As the years rolled along, the relationship continued to grow. There would be visits to minor league parks, major league parks, telephone calls and plenty of text messages. Whenever Pearce would be traded he would send a one word text to the Nastasi’s with the team he was heading to. It would be Pirates, Orioles, Astros, Yankees, Rays, Jays when one June night the tables would be turned.
“I was watching the Red Sox this past June after they had just beaten the Angels 4-2 when in the post game show they announced the Sox had acquired Steve Pearce from the Blue Jays. I quickly texted Steve with the words Red Sox”, said Nastasi.
Fourteen years after his Cotuit debut, Steve Pearce was finally heading to the team he loved, the Boston Red Sox. All those years, all those stops along the way, all the highlights and disappointments and finally the dream had come true. He made the most of it with a tremendous post season performance being named the MVP of the World Series. In no time his story and long journey was known by the entire sports world.
“It’s been wonderful to watch him every step of the way throughout the journey,” said Anne Nastasi. And Dave adds, “it was so touching and made me feel so good when he was boarding the plane in Los Angeles after the World Series and he texted us “wish you could have been here.”