Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway might be a celebrity to baseball fans but to Branford sophomore twins Owen and Blake Karsmarski, he’s like a brother. The Karsmarskis and about 120 lucky Branford High School students were treated to a surprise visit on Wednesday when Lavarnway and Sox third-baseman Pedro Ciriaco showed up to the school to chat about baseball, hand out some free Sox gear and answer questions about the game, the team and their lives as ballplayers.
Lavarnway, a player with the Sox since 2011, became a “Big Brother” to Blake seven years ago when he was a student at Yale University. He sign-up through the University for the national Big Brother program that was supposed to last six months; instead, Lavarnway has remained close to Blake, talking to him and his brother Owen every couple of weeks. In fact, the major league star is so close with the twins that both will be in his wedding – Blake as a groomsman and Owen as an usher – next November.
“I’ve loved baseball ever since I was born,” said Blake who plays for BHS adding, “I was born in Boston so I was born a Red Sox fan.” (Owen, a fan of baseball, plays football for BHS and runs track).
Before heading up to Owen’s math class to surprise him, Lavarnway shared that he was very excited to be visiting the boys. “I’ve been to their house, I’ve been to their neighborhood; they’ve been out to the stadium and to my school and this is one part of their lives that they told be about that I have never got to experience and see for myself. It means a lot to me. I am very excited.”
After surprising Owen in Brandon Lyons’ math class, the posse, which included mascot Wally and several camera operators, headed to the gymnasium where Blake was waiting.
About 100 students from several different physical education and health classes were present at the time of the arrival and they participated in asking the Sox players questions. Shy to begin, Charlie Ahern, BHS baseball catcher, broke the ice for his classmates saying, “I’ve been a Red Sox fan forever. This is really cool.” From there, questions ranged from what the players do during rain delays to what sacrifices they have to make to play in the major leagues.
BHS had just 24 hours notice that Lavarnway and Ciriaco would be stopping at the school as part of the team’s Holiday Road Trip. Prior to stopping by the school, the players visited children at Yale-New Haven Hospital and had lunch at Pepe’s in New Haven. Tomorrow they are headed to ESPN in Bristol.
Happy to have the celebrity ball payers visit the school, vice principal Ann Puglia told Patch, “It’s just so touching when people of that caliber give back to the community in that way.”
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