THE BLOG

The Smallest With the Biggest Impression

11/16/2010 09:01 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Craig Breslow is a 30-year-old left-handed relief pitcher for the Oakland Athletics by way of the Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins. And let's not forget New Jersey of the independent Northeast League.

He is the first pitcher in the Major Leagues from Yale since Ron Darling, now of television fame and the first from Yale with a major in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, just like countless others in the Major Leagues.

He had a good season: just 53 hits allowed in almost 75 innings and opposition hitters batted just .194 against him. Four wins, five saves.

But Craig Breslow's biggest save is not on the baseball field but in the field of cancer.

When he was 12 years old, his 14-year-old sister, Lesley, was stricken with thyroid cancer. She survived but, 18 years later, her battle continues to resonate, making an indelible mark on her brother's life.

He started the Strike 3 Foundation in 2008, dedicated to supporting and raising funds to benefit pediatric cancer research in hopes of heightening awareness and mobilizing support for childhood cancer research at pediatric oncology research and treatment institutions in his native Connecticut.

For his work, Breslow was selected as Oakland's 2010 nominee for baseball's Roberto Clemente Award, given annually to a player whose service to the community is deemed extraordinary.

When the A's were on the road in New York in September, Breslow held a luncheon at a Yankee Stadium restaurant that hosted many of his teammates, including closer Andrew Bailey, who is so enamored with the organization's mission that he serves as its Director of Development.

On Saturday night in Stamford, Connecticut, the Strike 3 Foundation held its Third Annual First Pitch Celebrity Gala. John Stuper, the head baseball coach at Yale for the past 19 years, donated his players as volunteers for the event. As a rookie pitcher on October 19, 1982, Stuper kept the Cardinals alive in the World Series with a 13-1 victory in Game Six against Milwaukee (attention kids: the Brewers played at the time in the American League) that allowed St. Louis to complete its comeback the following night.

But the star of the show was not Breslow, Bailey, outfielder Rajai Davis, former teammates Kevin Slowey, Boof Bonser and Vin Mazzaro or co-host Bobby Valentine, but the winner of the Isaias Valentin Courage Award. Isasis passed away just four days before his 10th birthday.

His mother presented the award to 11-year-old Daniel Trainor. Three years ago, Daniel was diagnosed with a brain tumor. This year alone, he has endured eight operations.

Can you imagine?

With the help of his mother and two canes, Daniel was helped to the podium. He kept the audience spellbound as he described himself as no one special. His spirit for life, humor, resilience and optimism was evident and stunning and triggered memories for me.

You see, when I began my treatments for prostate cancer, I was sentenced to 23 consecutive days of radiation in the oncology department in the bowels of the St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in Manhattan.

To the right of the entrance was a pediatric playroom. For all the days I showed up for treatment and the many others for consultations with my oncologist, the fabulous Dr. Paul Gliedman, I had the great good fortune to notice that not once was that pediatric playroom occupied.

Thank God.

If ever there was an impulse to feel sorry for myself, it would have been extinguished instantaneously had I seen anyone in there.

I thought of that as I welled up with tears as little Daniel struggled for breath to deliver his remarks.

We thank Craig Breslow for his great and important and selfless work and for putting Daniel on stage to inspire us lucky enough to be the room.

We pray for him.