Jonny Gomes‘ Army helmet has become an integral part of Boston’s celebrations, ranking right up there with beard-tugging and the lucky cigar store Indian statue.
This group has no shortage of chemistry or quirky good luck charms filling its clubhouse, but the story of how Gomes came to be in possession of the helmet that he has rocked after clinching the division title, winning the ALDS and advancing to the World Series is truly something special.
According to the U.S. Army’s website, Master Sgt. Miguel Chacon was at Fenway Park in June, enjoying watching many young fans, including his three children, receive autographs from some Red Sox players when he felt something hit him on the side. Assuming someone was tossing down memorabilia to have signed, an usher informed him that Gomes had thrown his batting gloves over for him as a token of his appreciation.
Chacon was able to thank Gomes personally for the nice gesture, but he took his recognition one step further. Chacon attended another game on Sept. 15, bringing with him the advanced combat helmet he had worn in Iraq. Before the game, Chacon told a club official that he had brought it specifically for Gomes, and minutes later he was escorted into the clubhouse to hand-deliver the special gift.
“Are you serious? This is cool. This rocks,” Chacon recalled Gomes saying upon receiving it. ”He was just taken by that helmet. He loved it. He lit up.”
Gomes seems to light up every time he dons the helmet too, understanding how much it meant for the Army master sergeant to part with the piece of equipment that includes Chacon’s rank, roster number, blood type, an American flag and a Special Forces sticker on the outside.
“Things that I’ve taken to combat and back, they have a lot of value to me,” said Chacon, who has set aside the gear for his children to one day give to theirs. “This is the stuff that dad went to war with. I wanted to give a piece of the battlefield back to Jonny.”
Gomes, whom Chacon describes as the most patriotic player he’s ever met, wears the helmet with pride and respect, but it is Chacon who feels proud to see his piece of armor helping the Red Sox play deep into October.
“It’s an honor to see him wear that,” said Chacon, adding that Gomes, in turn, “honors the military. That’s bigger than anything. I’m glad it’s getting them through the battle that they’re battling through right now to win the World Series.”