Rich Hill gripped the podium and stared at the speech he’d spent the week writing. He operates without fear on the pitcher’s mound, but public speaking can still jostle his nerves.
Before him sat hundreds of members of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, who sipped orange juice and coffee inside the ballroom of a Radisson off Interstate 93, waiting to hear from their 2017 honoree for Role Model of the Year.
Hill’s nose kept sniffling, his voice catching in his throat. He had sat on the dais as speakers feted him with compliments and the crowd showered him with a 22-second standing ovation.
One man referred to Hill as a “true role model.” Another suggested the...