Mike Timlin of the Red Sox takes the field during a 2014 Oldtime Baseball Game at Cambridge’s St. Peter’s Field. / Photo: Oldtime Baseball Game via Facebook

UPDATED Aug. 22: For nearly 30 years, the annual Oldtime Baseball Game has been entertaining sports fans in Cambridge and fund-raising for charities and nonprofits. This year, though, one of its longtime participants isn’t just playing. The Arlington resident is also raising awareness about a disease that has long affected him and helping to raise funds to help others who are living with it.

When Aidan Freeburg was a 19-year-old pitcher at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2014, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis,or MS -- a disease of the central nervous system that can lead to symptoms that affect the mind and entire body. Since his diagnosis, he has received treatment that has made the disease manageable.

Freeburg does still experience common MS symptoms such as migraines, numbness and overheating, but he nonetheless has been able to continue playing in the Oldtime Baseball Game every year it’s taken place since 2015. This week will be his eighth game, scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24, at St. Peter’s Field, 99 Sherman St., in Neighborhood 9 just east of Fresh Pond, Cambridge. The rain date is the following day.

The 28-year-old Freeburg recognizes how fortunate he is not to suffer from the severe symptoms that afflict many other MS patients, and he therefore wants to help those who are not doing as well as he is. “I consider myself very, very lucky,” he says.

 Fred Lynn during his 1970s heyday with the Boston Red Sox. / Photo: Oldtime Baseball Game via Facebook
Freeburg found this year's beneficiary

When organizers of the Oldtime Baseball Game, led by former Boston Herald and current Athleticcolumnist Steve Buckley, were deciding which charity to support this year, Freeburg suggested that they find a nonprofit that helps those with MS. The Arlington native took it upon himself to search for a beneficiary and met with representatives of The Boston Home, which serves adults with advanced multiple sclerosis and other progressive neurological disorders.

That Dorchester residential facility was chosen as this year’s beneficiary.

“It’s an incredible place,” Freeburg recently told longtime YourArlington partner CambridgeDay. “When 'Buck' and I visited, we talked to some of the patients there and heard their stories, and it’s such a lovely community. They do all sorts of events that really help the patients there and give them lots of freedom. They hold different events like accessible kayaking on the Charles or a Christmas tree lighting, and all sorts of really fun things around Boston. They don’t feel stuck in a bed or a wheelchair. Even with MS, they can live a fulfilling and awesome life around there.”'

Uniform from sports film 'The Natural'

Aidan Freeburg of Arlington, pitcher for ThursdayAidan Freeburg of Arlington, pitcher for Thursday

Beyond the enthusiasm he feels to help support a cause so meaningful to him, Freeburg looks forward to playing in a game that features such a lighthearted atmosphere. Players typically wear throwback baseball uniforms of defunct teams such as the Philadelphia Athletics, Boston Braves, Brooklyn Dodgers and St. Louis Browns, creating a sense of nostalgia. Period music contributes to the atmosphere.

This year, one player plans to wear the New York Knights uniform of Roy Hobbs, from the classic film “The Natural.” Hobbs has a possible regional connection: Many have said that one inspiration for the character was former major league player Eddie Waitkus, who, while playing for the Phillies in 1949, was shot by an obsessed fan. Waitkus grew up on Portland Street in the Wellington-Harrington neighborhood of Cambridge and played at Donnelly Field as a child.

Collegiate and amateur players from around the area participate in the game, which typically features a former Red Sox player. This year, Fred Lynn, who played seven seasons for the Red Sox, mostly in the 1970s, will serve as the honorary manager. Past games have featured other former Sox stars such as Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens and Tim Wakefield.

Donations to The Boston Home can be made in person at the Oldtime Baseball Game; those who wish to do so can give online here >>

This story was originally published by YourArlington partner Cambridge Day and was republished on Monday, Aug. 21, 2023.It wa supdated Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023, with a picture of Aidan Freeburg of Arlington, who is to pitch in the charity game Thursday evening in Cambridge.