For Rich Hill, MLB’s oldest pitcher, family legacy transcends game

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Lloyd Hill’s obituary was equal parts transcendent and understated. The summary of his 94 years reflected the way he lived.

With nouns and verbs like this, simple prose is all you need.

Graduate of Brown University, Bridgewater State University (M.Ed.), Suffolk University (J.D.) . . . Captain and All-American football tackle at Brown University . . . Distinguished Veteran of the Korean War . . . Completed 37 Boston Marathons.

“He never talked about his own abilities,” said Rich Hill, the Boston Red Sox left-hander and one of Lloyd’s five children. “Honestly, I heard a lot of stories about what he did for the first time after he passed away — from his nieces and nephews, people he worked with, people he coached.

“He always downplayed a lot of the things he did. Except for his family. That’s the one thing he always wanted to talk about.”

And when the time arrived to select a charity to benefit from memorial donations after Lloyd’s passing last month, there was one clear choice for the Hill family of Milton, Mass.

Brooks Hill, Rich’s son, was less than two months old when he passed away on Feb. 24, 2014, due to lissencephaly, a rare brain malformation, and congenital nephrotic syndrome.

Since then, Rich and his wife, Caitlin, have partnered with Massachusetts General Hospital to establish the Field of Genes fund. Rich said his family wants to make genetic testing available to larger numbers of families and express their gratitude for the extraordinary care Dr. David Sweetser, M.D., Ph.D., provided to Brooks.

Thus, one enduring legacy of Lloyd’s 94 years will be his support of the effort inspired by his late grandson.

“It’s fitting,” Rich Hill said in a recent phone conversation. “Very, very fitting.”

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Hill, whose Red Sox host the Chicago White Sox on Sunday at 11:35 a.m. ET on NBC and Peacock, said the research has two objectives. One is to expand treatment options for rare genetic diseases; the other is to improve the quality of life for the families impacted by such diseases, including in-home equipment for children with limited mobility.

One major challenge for families, Hill said, is that genetic testing isn’t always covered by medical insurance. Contributions also are directed toward the hiring of another full-time genetic researcher on staff at MGH.

“To look for a specific gene mutation is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, so a lot of the effort is toward helping the testing become more efficient,” Hill said. “For families, it’s so important to have answers about what’s going on with your child. To us, that’s one of the most important things Dr. Sweetser did for us. Two years after Brooks passed away, he gave us an answer as to what had happened to our son. We were grateful to know that, and we want families to have the information they need after showing such persistence.”

Rich and Caitlin have a goal of helping to raise $1 million for the Field of Genes campaign. The effort recently passed the $900,000 mark. The Hill family is dedicated to creating breakthroughs, because they know no other way.

For example: Rich Hill, 42, is the oldest pitcher in Major League Baseball this season. He’s still starting in the rugged American League East — with a 3.71 ERA, no less — more than a decade after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery and three seasons after a 2019 elbow injury threatened to end his career.

Hill made four consecutive postseason appearances with the Los Angeles Dodgers, from 2016 through 2019; he had a 1.80 ERA over three World Series starts. Hill’s legendary competitiveness drew national attention when he sent a Gatorade bucket full of Hi-Chew candy scattering through the dugout in a moment of fury — directed at himself — in the 2018 NLCS.

Such is Hill’s demeanor when he pitches, a stark contrast to the affability and thoughtfulness he brings to the clubhouse at all other times. And even when Hill is overcome by his own ferocity, an abiding appreciation persists.

“This game is a business, but you can’t forget the parts of it you fell in love with as a kid,” Hill said during an Opening Day conversation at Yankee Stadium. “For me, it’s really important to remove the result from what you enjoy about the game. The fun is in putting forward the effort and enjoying the intensity of competition alongside your teammates.

“I really started to appreciate that more by playing with the Dodgers, because the expectation to win a championship was there every year. You saw how Clayton (Kershaw) set the tone, and then a really talented young pitcher like Walker (Buehler) arrived, and he had a great example to follow.”

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Hill isn’t prepared to say that this will be his final season. Why would he? He is, after all, the son of Lloyd Hill, who worked for 35 years as an administrator and coach in Quincy, Mass., including 20 years as principal at Quincy High School. He also served as an adjunct professor at Northeastern University and Quincy College.

The universality of Lloyd Hill’s impact in Quincy is reflected in which wing of the school bears his name. It’s neither the football nor baseball field, but rather the Lloyd Hill Center for Performing Arts.

“He was always attending plays and concerts,” Rich recalled. “He saw the arts and theater as really important parts of the school community, and he was a huge supporter of that. I know our family is really appreciative of how the district and performing arts department recognized that about my dad. I think that says a lot about him and the way he did his job.”

Lloyd was so accomplished in football that he was named to the Athletic Hall of Fame at Brown; he signed a professional contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers before his U.S. Army deployment to Korea took precedent.

With his football career over and military service complete, Lloyd remained active through New England’s most iconic athletic event: the Boston Marathon. Lloyd’s family knew he ran in it. But how often? That was another thing he wouldn’t brag about. It took a conversation with family near the end of Lloyd’s life for the truth to emerge.

Rich and his siblings thought he’d run it 20 times, maybe 25.

Nope.

“We were talking about it one day, and he said, ‘Well, I started in ’58,’” Rich recalled. “By the time we did the math, we realized he’d done it 37 times. We told him, ‘You never said a word about that!’ But what’s who he was.”

Perhaps more impressive than running the marathon was how he did it: in the back of the pack with the “bandits,” as they were known in those days.

He never registered with a number. He just ran.

“That was him,” Rich said. “He’d train for it, here and there, but just kept himself in great shape. He could have had a number, but he didn’t care about the ceremony and attention that would go along with that. That sums him up: running the Marathon without a number.”

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Hill had pitched for the Red Sox twice before — from 2010 through 2012 and again in ’15 — and always dreamed of coming back again. Rich and Caitlin make their year-round home in the Boston area with their oldest son, Brice. When Hill signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox in early December, it meant he’d have more time with family this summer — and, as it turned out, the opportunity to be present in Boston during the final weeks of his father’s life.

Lloyd passed away on April 15. Rich’s next start was three days later.

Marathon Monday.

Hill took the loss against the Twins, giving up four earned runs over 4 2/3 innings, but his mere presence on the mound was a powerful tribute to the man whose character had helped him get there.

“It was a tough weekend,” Hill told reporters in the Red Sox clubhouse. “The job is to be a professional and show up, no matter what circumstances there are outside of the clubhouse or outside of the lines. You show up and you’re a pro, and that’s something that . . . ”

His voice broke.

“ . . . I learned from my dad.”

Lloyd ran all of those marathons without a number, because preparation and competition mattered to him greatly but recognition did not. While he has left behind the people and places he impacted so greatly, Lloyd’s commitment to service endures. And in carrying forward the Field of Genes mission, he has an eternal teammate: Brooks, whom he always called his guardian angel.

“It’s a reminder of the time we have on this earth,” Rich Hill said, “to make our footprints in a positive way.”

For more information on the Field of Genes fund, or to make a donation, please visit https://because.massgeneral.org/campaign/field-of-genes/c219538

Jon Paul Morosi is an MLB Network broadcaster and baseball insider. He joined NBC Sports as a contributing writer in 2022 after covering baseball for MLB.com, FOXSports.com, the Detroit Free Press, and Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Morosi has covered 12 World Series and baseball stories in Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Cuba.

Mr. Stats’ Notes: Playoff picture starts to take focus

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This is the time of year that baseball turns from a marathon to a sprint. The Toronto Blue Jays are steps ahead of other teams for a spot in the postseason. Toronto finished one game out of the playoffs a year ago. Will this year be different?

On Sunday, in a game streamed on Peacock beginning at 12 pm eastern, the Blue Jays will play the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In 2021, the Jays finished one game behind the Yankees for the Wild Card; and 39 games better than the division rival Orioles. Can Baltimore pass Toronto in the final weeks to nab the third and final Wild Card?

It’s time to sharpen up the predictions to pick out some potential October matchups and storylines.

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Wouldn’t it be something if…the Pittsburgh Pirates win the World Series?

Well, not the 2022 Pirates.  But several former Pirates.

The 2017 Pirates team had Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon in their starting rotation. By 2018, Cole was gone but Clay Holmes was in the Bucs pen.  If the New York Yankees win the 2022 World Series, it will almost certainly be with heavy lifting being done by Cole, Taillon, and Holmes. Jameson (12-4, 3.97) leads the Yankees in wins. Cole is their ace. Holmes should be the closer.

And if the New York Mets win the World Series this year, they will lean heavily on two other Pirates from those Clint Hurdle-managed teams. The Mets don’t hurdle through the National League without Starling Marte and, to a lesser degree, Trevor Williams.  Marte is slashing .309/.359/.511 with 41 extra-base hits in 93 games since May 1, and for the season his bWAR is 3.7. Williams, meanwhile, has not allowed a run in a career-high 24.0 straight innings. Trevor has a 0.88 WHIP, a .190 opponent’s average and a .483 opponent’s OPS during that span.

Pittsburgh fans can find someone to root for even if the San Diego Padres win the World Series (Joe Musgrove), or the Atlanta Braves (Charlie Morton) repeat.

2022 MLB on Peacock schedule: How to watch, live stream Sunday morning baseball games online

Wouldn’t it be something if…the Cardinals beat the Mets in the postseason (with Adam Wainwright getting the final outs)?

In 2006, the Mets won 97 games. The Cardinals won 83 games. But the two teams met in the NLCS, and in Game 7, the Cards had a 3-1 lead entering the bottom of the ninth. Rookie Adam Wainwright closed it out, slamming the door and eliminating the Mets by striking out Carlos Beltran with the bases loaded to end the game.

Wouldn’t it be something if all these years later, the Cardinals once again eliminated the heavily-favored Mets in the deciding game with Wainwright (9-9, 3.09) on the mound!

And if that happened…

Wouldn’t it be something if…the Cardinals beat the Yankees in the World Series (with Jordan Montgomery eliminating his former team)?

Jordan Montgomery was traded from the Yankees to the Cardinals in exchange for Harrison Bader. Montgomery, in his first five starts for St. Louis, is 4-0, with 1.76 ERA and a WHIP of 0.815. How great would it be for Monty, who started the season as the Yankees’ No. 3 starter, eliminates New York.

Of course, October is a long way away. Perhaps Harrison Bader will run down a long blast by Nolan Arenado or Paul Goldschmidt to save a game for the Yankees.

I know what you’re thinking. Even if the Cardinals make the World Series, the Yankees may fall in the ALCS to the Astros. And if that were the case…

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Wouldn’t it be something if…the Cardinals and Astros meet in the World Series, a rematch of the 2004 NLCS (when St. Louis won) and the 2005 NLCS (when Houston won)?

Albert Pujols was the MVP of the 2004 NLCS versus the Houston Astros. Albert batted .500 (14-28 AB) with 1.000 SLG, 1.563 OPS, and 4 HR in the series! Imagine if he has a surge in the very late stages of his career. In the 2005 series, he hit a ninth-inning blast off Brad Lidge that’s a signature highlight in a career full of them.

I know, the Cardinals are a long shot. The Mets have a much better chance of reaching the World Series. So:

Wouldn’t it be something if…Buck Showalter finally makes the World Series in his 21st year as a Major League manager…and loses the Series when the Yankees bring in a reliever named (check notes…) Zack Britton to slam the door on Buck’s Mets?

Well before Timmy Trumpet, Showalter once had an elite reliever in his stint with the Orioles, Zack Britton. In 2016, Britton saved 47 games in 47 save opportunities. The Orioles won 89 games in 2016, and played in the one-game Wild Card in Toronto. The elimination game was tied 2-2 after five innings. And six innings. And seven innings. And eight innings. And nine innings. And ten innings. Buck kept waiting for his Birds to score a run, to bring in the great Britton to close out the Jays. Trouble is, he never did get Zack into the game, and eventually Ubaldo Jimenez lost the game for Buck in the 11th.

Just a thought. If there’s an opportunity to get Edwin Diaz late in a tie game on the road, do it. If you go down, go down with your best.

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Wouldn’t it be something if Buck Showalter finally makes it to the World Series against the Astros and Dusty Baker? One of them has to win, right? Please tell me someone has to win.

Is it even remotely possible that Dusty’s team blows another series lead? Baker shouldn’t have lost the 2002 World Series to the Angels, or the 2021 World Series to the Braves. He shouldn’t have blown a 2-0 series lead to the Giants in a 2012 best-of-five series. He shouldn’t have blown a three-run lead with five outs to go in Game 7 of a 2003 series to the Marlins. And only Dusty — poor Dusty — can have a lead after four innings of a winner-take-all game, bring in Max Scherzer — and still lose the game and series, as Dusty’s Nats did against the Cubs in 2017.

Wouldn’t it be something if the 2022 World Series were a rematch of the 2017 World Series? Only this time, Clayton Kershaw pitches on a level playing field, if you know what I mean. Man, it would be great to see Clayton start a game in Houston.

Remember what happened when Kershaw started Game 5 of the ’17 series in Houston? Clayton was unhittable in Game 1 of that series at Dodger Stadium; but in Game 5, Kershaw blew a 4-0 lead in the fourth inning, and a 7-4 lead in the bottom of the fifth.

I know Kershaw found redemption in the 2020 World Series in Arlington, Texas against Tampa Bay. But I want more. I want Clayton to shut down Altuve, Bregman, and Gurriel in Houston. In a World Series. Wouldn’t that be something?

And if the Astros defeated the Dodgers, I would feel so glad for Dusty Baker, who would have a World Series championship as a player for the Dodgers (in 1981) and as a manager against the Dodgers (41 years later, in 2022).

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Wouldn’t it be something if someone other than the Astros or Yankees made the World Series?  Wouldn’t it be something if the Mariners defeated the Yankees?

Time for a little history lesson. In 2001, the Mariners had a historic regular season, winning 116 games. But they lost the ALCS to the Yankees in five games. In Game 5 at Yankee Stadium, with the Yankees blowing out Seattle 9-0 and eventually eliminating them 12-3, the Bronx crowd chanted “Over-rated” at the Mariners.

Classy, I know. But wouldn’t it be something if the tides were reversed a generation later, and the heavily-favored Yankees fell in Seattle, with the Pacific Northwest crowd serenading the Yankees with the “over-rated” chant?

Wouldn’t it be something if…Rays manager Kevin Cash refuses to take out a starting pitcher that is on his game?

Wouldn’t it be something if…Bryce Harper finally was part of a winning playoff series? Harper appeared been in four Division Series as a member of the Nationals, and lost all four. 

Wouldn’t it be something if…Francisco Lindor makes the World Series against his former Cleveland team and manager Terry Francona?

As the rock group Green Day sang, “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”

MLB schedule 2022: Every Sunday morning baseball game on Peacock, matchups, what to know

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Sunday baseball is officially coming to Peacock this May! 18 MLB games will be featured on the streaming service starting with the Chicago White Sox vs. Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park on Sunday, May 8 at 11:30 p.m. ET. See below for the full Sunday baseball on Peacock schedule.

Sunday Baseball on Peacock schedule

Date Time Matchup
May 8 11:30 a.m. ET Chicago White Sox at Boston Red Sox
May 15 11:30 a.m. ET San Diego Padres at Atlanta Braves
May 22 11:30 a.m. ET St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates
May 29 11:30 a.m. ET San Francisco Giants at Cincinnati Reds
June 5 11:30 a.m. ET Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees
June 12 11:30 a.m. ET Oakland Athletics at Cleveland Guardians
June 19 Noon ET Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals
June 26 Noon ET New York Mets at Miami Marlins
July 3 Noon ET Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers
July 10 Noon ET Los Angeles Angels at Baltimore Orioles
July 17 Noon ET Kansas City Royals at Toronto Blue Jays
July 24 Noon ET Chicago Cubs at Philadelphia Phillies
July 31 Noon ET Detroit Tigers at Toronto Blue Jays
August 7 Noon ET Houston Astros at Cleveland Guardians
August 14 Noon ET San Diego Padres at Washington Nationals
August 21 Noon ET Chicago White Sox at Cleveland Guardians
August 28 Noon ET Los Angeles Dodgers at Miami Marlins
September 4 Noon ET Toronto Blue Jays at Pittsburgh Pirates

How to watch the MLB on Peacock                              

Baseball is back and for the first time ever MLB games are coming to Peacock this May, featuring a total of 18 Sunday match ups. Click here to sign up for Peacock and watch MLB games live on Sunday mornings!

The first MLB game on Peacock will take place on Sunday, May 8 at 11:30 a.m. ET as the Chicago White Sox battle it out with the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. The game will also be available on the NBC broadcast network.

In addition to MLB games, Peacock will also feature a new MLB hub which will include access to highlight packages and award-winning documentaries from the MLB Film & Video Archive.

Opening Day for the 2022 MLB season takes place on Thursday, April 7 and the league will stick to its original slate of 162 games despite a 99-day-lockout. For more on the 2022 MLB season click here.

See below for additional information on how to watch MLB on Peacock.

How can I watch baseball on Peacock and what devices are compatible?

Peacock is currently available on the Roku platform; Amazon FireTV and Fire tablets; Apple devices including iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD; Google platforms and devices including Android™, Android TV™ devices, Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices;  Microsoft’s Xbox One family of devices, including Xbox One S and Xbox One X; Sony PlayStation4 and PlayStation 4 Pro; Samsung Smart TVs; VIZIO SmartCast™ TVs; LG Smart TVs; Comcast’s entertainment platforms including Xfinity X1, Xfinity Flex, and XClass TV; and Cox’s Contour and Contour Stream Player devices. To learn more about Peacock and how to sign up, visit PeacockTV.com.