THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

A stray pitch, a caring gesture lead to lasting romance

By Lenny Megliola
Globe Correspondent / July 4, 2010

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Rich Gedman and Sherry Aselton met by accident in 1977. It was the day that Sherry, a sophomore at St. Peter-Marian High School in Worcester, hit Mary Anne Palazzi in the head with a rising fastball during softball practice in the gym.

“The pitch knocked her out,’’ says Sherry. “I was so upset. I thought I’d killed our third baseman.’’

An eyewitness to this was senior Rich Gedman, the star player of the school’s baseball team, which had a practice scheduled after the girls. Rain had forced the teams indoors.

While everyone else’s main concern was Palazzi, who was wearing a helmet, Rich saw that the frazzled Sherry needed support too. He went over to check on her. “Everyone was distraught,’’ Rich recalls. “Sherry felt awful, but no one seemed to notice.’’

“I didn’t have a clue who he was,’’ says Sherry, who was one of the best pitchers in the area and led St. Peter-Marian to a state title that season. Rich’s gesture was comforting. Later, Sherry said, Rich became curious about “the girl on the softball team that was getting more press than he was.’’

Palazzi, the daughter of former Holy Cross star and Celtics draft pick Togo Palazzi, recovered soon enough, and Rich and Sherry hit it off.

“We sat together on the team bus,’’ says Sherry. That summer, a romance bloomed. “He’d drive his moped seven miles to see me, and it was all uphill.’’

Sherry went on to star at the University of Connecticut. Rich signed with the Red Sox and spent 11 years in the big leagues with Boston, was a two-time American League All-Star, and played in the 1986 World Series when Boston lost to the Mets. He caught Roger Clemens when Boston’s longtime ace was in his prime.

Rich and Sherry were married in 1982, and have lived in Framingham since then. Rich, 50, is in his sixth season as manager of the Worcester Tornadoes of the Can-Am League. “He’s a wealth of experience,’’ says George Bassiacos, the independent pro team’s general manager.

Sherry, heavily recruited in high school, took a full scholarship to UConn because “I wanted to stay close to home.’’ In her junior year, Rich made it to the big leagues. “By that time, we weren’t seeing much of each other,’’ says Sherry.

“One day we were at a restaurant at Shoppers World’’ in Framingham. “I was going back to school. Richie said, ‘Why don’t we just get married?’ ’’

Saying yes was the easy part, even though it meant she’d be leaving school. “I was petrified to tell my parents,’’ Sherry recalls. “My dad said it was OK, if we thought it was the right thing to do. My mother thought it was crazy: ‘You’re only 20 years old!’ ’’

Love won out. They were married in February 1982, just before Gedman left for spring training. Much of their time over the years has been spent at ball fields and ice rinks watching their children play.

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