Sunday, February 22, 2009

Heavy Heart, Full Stomach

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The OTP really only had one mission here at Red Sox spring training this week: Find Kevin Youkilis and get the inside story of his brush with burger greatness.

If you are a fan of the Travel Channel's "Man vs. Food," you already know the basics. Back in late October, host Adam Richman came to Boston to take on the burger beast at Eagle's Deli on the campus of Boston College. The task was tall and tasty: Put away the 12-pound Eagle Burger -- 5 pounds meat, 2 pounds bacon and cheese and 5 pounds of fries -- in just one hour.

No one had ever completed the task, and, as it happened, neither did Adam. But the show's biggest surprise was Youkilis' cameo appearance, having stopped by the deli with his wife Enza for a quick meal and stumbling upon the show's taping, providing the New York nosher with some home-kitchen disadvantage.

“It was the most unbelievable thing I’d ever seen,” Youkilis said. “To eat that in a whole day is ridiculous, let alone in an hour. It was sick, to say the least. It was disgusting. I was laughing the whole time. With two people, you could do it. He only finished about five pounds of meat. I don’t know the closest someone’s ever come. I don’t think anyone has done it. It makes you appreciate just a burger and fries."

But this feel-good story of the spring took an unexpected turn when we learned why Youkilis was dressed in a full suit and tie -- hardly the typical fashion for a campus deli.

Turns out, Kevin and Enza had just come from attending the funeral of young Christian Meyer, the 8-year-old boy and brain cancer patient that Youkilis had befriended during the season, even hitting a home run for the brave child on Aug. 17 and high-fiving Christian near the Red Sox dugout after circling the bases.

“We were at his funeral at the chapel at BC and afterwards we went for a bite to eat,” Youkilis said. “My wife was pretty upset and we were driving around, thinking about getting food and I said, ‘I’m in the mood for a burger.’ She always talks about the place from college and we went there to get a burger. Next thing you know, they’re filming this “Man vs. Food” there.

“It was actually probably the best thing for us after going to something so sad. It put a smile on our face. It was perfect timing. [Richman’s] a funny guy. He laughs the whole time. Before he even did it, he’s like, 'My job is to look like an idiot and eat food.' He’s a nice guy, a good guy. It was a good time."

To contribute to the Meyer Family Trust, send a check to c/o John Talvacchia Eckert, Seamans LLC, One International Place Boston, MA 02110 or — in honor of Christian Daniel Meyer — to c/o Massachusetts General Hospital, Pediatric Brain Tumor Fund, 165 Cambridge St., Suite 600, Boston, MA 02114.

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