NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Former Yale Bulldog and current Oakland Athletic Craig Breslow '02 will be back in Connecticut Nov. 13 for the third annual First Pitch Celebrity Gala to support his Strike 3 Foundation for pediatric cancer research. Breslow, a member of the Yale baseball team from 1999-2002, has enjoyed tremendous success in the major leagues as Yale's first big leaguer since Ron Darling '82. Yet, as his foundation's work demonstrates, it was the off-the-field lessons Breslow learned as a Bulldog -- not just those learned on it -- that have stuck with him since he has left New Haven.
While at Yale, the Trumbull, Conn., native received his degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry and captained the Bulldogs in the 2002 season. In his five-year major league career, Breslow has posted a 2.87 ERA in 228 games for the Indians, Twins, and his current team, the Oakland Athletics. In 2010, Breslow was 4-4 out of the A's bullpen with an ERA of 3.01 in 75 games, the second straight season he has been among the league leaders in appearances.
But Breslow's success on the field has been eclipsed by the work he has done off it. He has been recognized several times for his community service, including being nominated for Major League Baseball's Roberto Clemente Award for community service, and was chosen for the Oakland Athletics' Stewart Award, given annually to the "A" that works hardest to give back to his community.
Besides being a regular contributor to A's community service events, much of Breslow's work centers around Strike 3 -- a foundation he founded to honor his older sister Lesley, who overcame pediatric cancer 15 years ago. Founded in 2008, the foundation has raised more than $200,000 to benefit pediatric cancer research this year, a figure Breslow credits to his support staff at the foundation.
"The Strike 3 Foundation has gained incredible momentum in 2010," Breslow said. "I receive a lot of praise for the work that we do, but there are a number of cogs which make this thing work. Our staff is entirely based on volunteers, and our C.O.O., a friend of mine named Joe Lizza, has committed himself to this cause wholeheartedly…there is no way that we could have come as far as we have as quickly as we have without a host of volunteers, spearheaded by Joe."
Despite Breslow's willingness to send credit elsewhere, Yale head coach John Stuper knows his former player's on- and off-field impact is indicative of something special.
"I have said it before and I will say it again. I am extremely proud of Craig's success at the Major League level, but I am even prouder of the man he has become." Stuper said. "His efforts with his foundation certainly speak to his character and his caring for those suffering from this terrible disease."
While Breslow defers credit for the foundation's success to others, he also cites lessons learned as a Yale baseball player under Stuper's tutelage as crucial to his baseball success – the success that has given him the opportunity to make such an impact in his community.
"John Stuper was a very easy coach to play for. He was definitely a player's manager, and -- as a big league pitcher himself -- taught the game the way it was supposed to be played at higher levels," Breslow said. "He recognized the difference between preparing college athletes to succeed in college and preparing them to succeed in life. He had two very simple rules, which have guided me for 10 years. Be on time, and play hard. When you think about it, there is really no field in which this advice doesn't apply."
Breslow has certainly done more than just be on time and play hard in his Major League Baseball career, particularly when it comes to his foundation. In its three years, Strike 3 has sponsored numerous fundraising events, including the Inaugural New York Yankees Steakhouse Luncheon at Yankee Stadium earlier this fall, a wine tasting in San Francisco, and a golf tournament, also in the Bay Area.
As for this year's gala, Breslow expects to raise $200,000 from the event for Connecticut's pediatric cancer research and treatment centers. ESPN Baseball Tonight's Karl Ravech and Bobby Valentine will be on hand hosting the event, and several of Breslow's fellow A's and other celebrities will be on hand at the Hilton Hotel in Stamford, Conn., to entertain a crowd of more than 400 -- making the Third Annual Gala Strike 3's most highly-attended event yet.
Tickets and additional information can be found at the foundation's website: www.strike3foundation.org.