Strike 3 Foundation

The Strike 3 Foundation heightens awareness, mobilizes support, and raises funding for childhood cancer research.

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Trumbull native Breslow perserveres

NEW YORK — There was always that confidence, that steadfast belief that Craig Breslow could get out major-league hitters. It wasn’t just the fact that he had an above average fastball. It wasn’t that he had guts, guile and a fierce determination to show that he wasn’t some flash-in-the-pan kid from Yale.

The only question was: Would he ever get a chance?

Drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2002, he never got past Class A and was released in 2004. The San Diego Padres signed him for $1 after seeing him in a tryout camp, and in 2005, he saw major-league action in 14 games. After the season, Breslow, who grew up in Trumbull, was released.

Sense a pattern here?

The Boston Red Sox signed him in 2006 and he saw action in 13 games. In 2007, he was called up on Sept. 1 and sent back to Class AAA Pawtucket the next day. At the end of the season, Boston placed him on waivers.

"Boston is a really tough place to establish a career," said Breslow, sitting in front of his locker Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. "I always felt like I could get big-league hitters out, I just didn’t know if I’d ever have the opportunity to."

Cleveland claimed Breslow off waivers in 2008. He lasted just eight games before being released. Minnesota picked him up, and in 42 games, he posted a solid 1.63 ERA and allowed 24 hits in 38 2/3 innings. But after pitching just 14 1/3 innings in 2009 with the Twins, Breslow was placed on waivers. Again.

But this time, Oakland picked him up, and for once, the Athletics weren’t just looking to give Breslow the proverbial major-league "cup of coffee."

Finally, here was his opportunity.

In 60 games with the A’s last season, Breslow posted seven wins and had a 2.60 ERA. And as the 2010 season heads into its final month, the kid who was the winning pitcher for Trumbull High in the Class LL state championship game back in 1998 now leads Oakland in appearances (61), is on pace to break his own single-season appearance record (77), has allowed just 44 hits in 59 2/3 innings and has an impressive 3.32 ERA.

"I think every year I’ve been able to make the adjustments I need and come back and become a better pitcher than I was the previous year, and this year is another example of that," said Breslow, 30, before pitching 1 1/3 scoreless innings in the Yankees’ 4-3 win over the A’s Wednesday night at the Stadium. "I feel really comfortable, I’ve been trucked into some late-inning situations, I got an opportunity to save some games, to pitch in the set-up role, and I think I’ve showed that I do have some value in those roles."

Along with four wins and two saves this season, Breslow has 60 strikeouts in those 59-plus innings, and opponents are hitting just .202.

"I made some adjustments coming out of last year," he said. "I did some things really differently in the off-season and I felt like I’ve been a much better pitcher from Day 1. I got myself in better shape. I did a little bit more back-loaded throwing as opposed to starting so early with throwing. I was still getting stronger as we were getting into the season."

And as Breslow continues to get stronger in his role in the Oakland bullpen, so does his Strike 3 Foundation. Now in its third year, the foundation was created to aid childhood cancer research. Breslow’s sister, Lesley, was diagnosed with pediatric thyroid cancer when she was 14 and has been cancer-free for the last 17 years.

Breslow’s foundation held a luncheon at the Stadium’s NYY Steakhouse Wednesday afternoon, selling out 60 seats at $450 each.

"We knew that, obviously, New York is a great place to hold a fund-raiser, and obviously, the Yankees generate an incredible amount of interest, so we were trying to brainstorm whether or not we’d do a dinner … just because of our schedule, that became problematic," Breslow said. "So we decided on a luncheon and it just made so much sense with the venue and the restaurant they have here. Guys were coming to the Stadium anyway, it wasn’t a huge imposition to go upstairs for an hour or two."

Breslow’s Oakland teammates, Brad Ziegler, Dallas Braden, Kurt Suzuki, Andrew Bailey, Trevor Cahill and Ben Sheets, and Yankee pitcher Joba Chamberlain attended the luncheon.

"I don’t know Joba but he and Andrew Bailey have the same agent, so I think Andrew just asked Joba if he’d do it and Joba was great," Breslow said. "He talked about what we were doing and the importance of athletes giving back, so it was absolutely perfect."

And on Nov. 13, Breslow will be back in the state, hosting his third annual Strike 3 foundation gala at the Stamford Hilton.

"(The foundation’s) going really well," he said. "I think 2010 will show our greatest strides both in terms of revenue but also the people that we’re reaching. There are a lot more people that recognize the name than they did a year ago."

Just like American League hitters are starting to recognize Craig Breslow.


By Chris Elsberry

September 2, 2010 · Reprinted from The Connecticut Post © 2010

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The Strike 3 Foundation heightens awareness, mobilizes support, and raises funding for childhood cancer research.

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