Strike 3 Foundation

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

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Trumbull’s Breslow always pitching for cancer research

Three years ago, Craig Breslow had enjoyed a cup of coffee with the Boston Red Sox, but in the summer of 2007, he was back in the minors, pitching for the Class AAA Pawtucket Red Sox. Apparently, though, he had made quite an impression in Boston.

At least on pitcher Josh Beckett, that is.

It was Beckett who called: "Bres " I need you to answer a question," the voice message began. It seems that Beckett and catcher Doug Mirabelli were trying to figure out how many times a baseball would rotate from the pitcher’s hand to the catcher’s glove. No one in the Red Sox clubhouse could figure that out. Too cerebral. If there was anyone who would know the answer, Beckett figured, it was Breslow.

And he did.

Breslow is a Yale graduate. He majored in molecular biophysics and biochemistry. How many times a baseball spins from the mound to the plate? Piece of cake.

"I called a couple of my friends, we talked about it and came up with a number," Breslow said Tuesday via cell phone. "It’s 12. We based it on a major-league fastball thrown at 95 miles per hour."

If he wasn’t striking out major-league batters himself with a fastball clocked in the low 90s, Breslow would probably be in medical school, working on a cure for cancer. And, in a sense, he is, although he’s not in a laboratory. Through the creation of his strike3foundation, Breslow is raising money for pediatric cancer research, something that’s close to his heart.

"The fact that my sister (Lesley) is a pediatric cancer survivor has obviously weighed heavily on me for a long time," Breslow said. "I’ve always had an interest in medicine, given my major in college " I’d probably be in med school right now if I wasn’t playing baseball. Doing something charitable has allowed me to kind of stay connected to the medical field and allowed me to do something productive and beneficial."

On Saturday at the Omni Hotel in New Haven, Breslow’s strike3foundation will host its second charity benefit. Former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra will be the featured speaker with several other regional celebrities on hand, like Oakland A’s outfielder Jack Cust, former Mets manager Bobby Valentine and ex-UConn star and current assistant coach Shea Ralph.

"We’ve got a great event planned," Breslow said. "Anything we can raise will help."

Breslow was 12 when he heard Lesley, who was 14 at the time, had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She had surgery to remove the tumor and has been cancer-free for the last 16 years. Lesley’s condition led Breslow down a path that took him from Trumbull High to Yale University, where he graduated in 2002, looking to head to medical school.

Only the Milwaukee Brewers changed his plans.

The Brewers drafted Breslow and he spent a couple of seasons in their minor-league organization before being released. In 2005, he signed with the San Diego Padres, and on July 23, he made his major league debut, finishing the 2005 season with a solid 2.20 ERA in 14 appearances.

The Red Sox picked him up, and in 2006, he made 13 appearances with the big club, posting a 3.75 ERA. He spent the ’07 season with Pawtucket, except for a one-day call-up on Sept. 1 — which earned him a Red Sox World Series ring. But in spring training, the Red Sox released him. Cleveland signed him " and then waived him a month later. The Minnesota Twins picked him up and he spent the rest of the 2008 season there, posting a 1.63 ERA in 42 games.

On May 29, the Twins placed Breslow on waivers and Oakland grabbed him. He finished with a 7-5 record and a 2.60 ERA in 60 games out of the bullpen.

"It was unfortunate that the Twins felt like they needed to make a change. You would have thought that the year I had last year might have earned me a little bit of a longer lease, but that’s the business side of things," Breslow said. "Fortunately, the A’s had been interested in acquiring my services for quite some time and this year finally had a chance to make good on that."

He’s hoping that Oakland will tender him a contract for 2010, but for now, he’s busy working with his foundation. Last year’s event raised over $100,000, and this year, Breslow’s hoping for more.

"We’re really happy with the way things have gone," he said. "I didn’t really know what to expect (when the foundation was created). I had mentioned to my family that I wanted to do something and they were all supportive. Joe Lizza (CEO), who handles the day-to-day management of the foundation, said ‘whatever you need, I’ll do,’ and since then, we’ve been running with it."

By Chris Elsberry

November 12, 2009 · Reprinted from The Connecticut Post © 2009

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

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