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NC State, Boston College to meet at Fenway Park, raise awareness for ALS

A message congratulating former Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez on his election to baseball's Hall of Fame is displayed on a centerfield video board Jan. 6, 2015, at Fenway Park in Boston. N.C. State and Boston College are going to play a baseball game at Fenway on April 22. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
A message congratulating former Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez on his election to baseball's Hall of Fame is displayed on a centerfield video board Jan. 6, 2015, at Fenway Park in Boston. N.C. State and Boston College are going to play a baseball game at Fenway on April 22. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) AP

N.C. State and Boston College are going to play a baseball game at Boston’s famous Fenway Park to help raise awareness for ALS.

Chris Combs hopes it’s the start of a trend.

The Wolfpack and Eagles will meet at Fenway, the home of the Boston Red Sox and the “Green Monster,” on April 22 in the second game of their regularly-scheduled ACC series. ESPNU will air the game between the two programs connected by a common cause.

Combs, a star first baseman at N.C. State in the mid-1990s, and Pete Frates, a standout centerfielder for the Eagles in the mid-2000s, both have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

Combs, an associate director with the Wolfpack Club, and Boston College coach Mike Gambino came up with the idea for the game at Fenway as a way to help in the fight against ALS.

Baseball icons Lou Gehrig and Jim “Catfish” Hunter both died from ALS. Combs, 41, would like for baseball, both on the college and pro level, to rally around the cause the way women’s basketball has embraced breast cancer and the “Play 4 Kay”s series which helps the foundation for former N.C. State women’s basketball coach Kay Yow.

“I think it’s a perfect match and its a great chance to raise more awareness,” said Combs, who was diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease in May. “Hopefully we can reach out and get more teams involved.”

The proceeds from the game will benefit Frates’ ALS fund. Frates was diagnosed with ALS in 2012 and his group launched the “Ice Bucket Challenge” on social media in 2014, which has raised more than $115 million for ALS research.

Combs’ foundation recently raised more than $1 million for ALS research.

Boston College has held an annual ALS awareness game for the past five years. Bruce Winkworth, who worked with the N.C. State baseball program for 15 years, connected Combs with Gambino in the spring. BC has been working with the Red Sox to get the game moved to the iconic park.

N.C. State coach Elliott Avent helped get ESPN involved when he talked with ESPN president John Skipper at a Carolina Panthers football game in November.

More information on ALS research can be found on the web site for Frates’ foundation or Combs’ foundation.

Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio

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