The Day Jimmy Met Ted
New Sweden, Maine native Einar Gustafson spoke at Fenway Park back in 1998 – 50 years after he had unknowingly started “The Jimmy Fund”. The story of Jimmy is almost too hard to believe…
Imagine being a 12-year-old kid back in 1948, living just outside of Caribou in Aroostook County, you have cancer and your family takes you back and forth to Boston for treatment. That was the story of Einar and the Gustafson family.
The old Ralph Edwards radio show “This is Your Life” picked up on this story and Ralph phoned the hospital room Einar was staying in for a live radio broacast. It was set up that several members of the Boston Braves baseball team visited Einar’s room at the same time. The Braves were Einar’s favorite team.
Ralph Edwards never identified Einar by name, instead calling him “a sick little boy, we’ll call him Jimmy.”
Dr. Sidney Farber (Dana-Farber Cancer Institue) treated Einar and while many cancer patients didn’t survive in 1948, Einar did. Einar spent most of his life in Maine, in obscurity.
The idea of raising money for research and treatment was born and it was called “The Jimmy Fund”. When the Boston Braves left town the Boston Red Sox picked up the charity and it has become a staple of the team and fans everywhere.
No one really knew what happened to the original “Jimmy” until his sister came forward with information in 1998 – the 50th year of the Jimmy Fund.
Einar told his story to all – a Mainer was THE JIMMY!
He became the official ambassador for the Jimmy Fund, speaking at Fenway and anywhere they charity wanted him to go and tell his story. In 1999, Einar finally got a chance to meet is idol, Ted Williams.
Sadly, in 2001, Einar passed away after suffering a stroke. He was 65.
For more information of Einar, the Jimmy Fund or Dana-Farber Cancer Institute go to jimmyfund.org.