The baseball season is young, but fans may have seen the year's "feel-good" story last Monday night. It was one of those those moments that once prompted giddy headlines like, "Hub City southpaw twirls gem!"

No-hitters are always sports news, of course. But when coupled with the fact the "gamer" who pitched it — Red Sox hurler Jon Lester — is also a cancer survivor and a World Series hero, the story takes on a life of its own.

There are those who say, with equal amounts of truth and self-righteousness, that with a war raging and the economy tanking, sports stories look pretty superficial. But it's also true that a valiant effort — no matter the venue — can serve as a source of inspiration and hope for the dispirited and disgruntled. The old Wide World of Sports tagline about "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat" is about the human heart.

And Lester, in recent years, has displayed a heart the size of Alaska, both on the field and off.

The pitcher missed the last part of the 2006 season when he was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He came back a year later after chemotherapy to win a big game in the World Series for the Bosox in 2007.

Now this.

Lester's manager, Terry Francona, became a friend and surrogate father to the pitcher during his cancer treatments. His comments after the no hitter summed up his feelings. "He's not just a good kid because he threw a no-hitter," Francona said. "He's a good kid because he's a good kid."

And, in a sport beleaguered by steroid scandal and a country bedeviled by everything from gas prices to the human cost of war, Lester's "gem" was a sunny moment that triggered some much-needed smiles.