Marc Narducci: Former Paul VI standout goes to bat for a good cause

Oakland A's righthander Andrew Bailey will host the inaugural Bailey Bowl, his first major charity event to aid in the fight against pediatric cancer, next month in Pennsauken.
Oakland A's righthander Andrew Bailey will host the inaugural Bailey Bowl, his first major charity event to aid in the fight against pediatric cancer, next month in Pennsauken. (BEN MARGOT / Associated Press)
Posted: December 14, 2011

Andrew Bailey is admittedly nervous. Not because this is the first time the Oakland A's righthander is eligible for arbitration.

Neither is he sweating very much about the lengthy list of trade rumors to which his name is linked.

No, the graduate of Paul VI, former American League rookie of the year and two-time all-star, is nervous over hosting his first major charitable event near his hometown of Haddon Heights.

On Jan. 7, the inaugural Bailey Bowl will take place at the Pinsetter Bar & Bowl in Pennsauken, an evening of bowling and dining, mingling with athletes, and a silent auction with proceeds directed toward helping pediatric cancer. (For more information, visit www.strike3foundation.org.)

Bailey not only is lending his name to the event, but he also is doing all the legwork.

Think trying to wiggle out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam is nerve-racking? That is kid's stuff compared to running this event.

"It's a way to give back to the community, and I really want this to be a success," Bailey said in a recent phone interview.

The Bailey Bowl comes under the umbrella of the Strike 3 Foundation, founded by former Oakland pitcher Craig Breslow, who was traded last week to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Breslow started the foundation in 2008, and his sister Lesley has been the inspiration. Now 33, Lesley was diagnosed with pediatric thyroid cancer when she was 14.

Since then, Craig Breslow, who has a degree in molecular physics and biochemistry from Yale, has been interested in medicine.

Bailey and Breslow used to talk about the foundation during their time together, and one thing led to another. Bailey is now on the board of directors, and he and Breslow are heavily involved.

Recently, there was a Strike 3 Foundation fund-raiser in Connecticut run by Breslow. New Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was the emcee. This event raised more than $215,000.

Now, Bailey is hosting the first one for the foundation in South Jersey, and most of the proceeds will go to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"This is a big deal for Andrew, having this event in the Philadelphia area," Breslow said by phone.

Breslow says the best part of the charity is that his sister, the true inspiration, is doing so well these days.

"So many charities come out of tragedy," Breslow said. "This is an opportunity to celebrate somebody's success and to show all the good that comes out of the research."

Bailey has been running around, selling tickets, gaining sponsorships, securing items for the celebrity auction.

And Bailey, 27, who lives in Connecticut during the offseason, is fitting this around his workouts.

This past season, he was 0-4 with a 3.24 ERA and 24 saves in 412/3 innings. He was sidelined early in the season with a forearm strain.

Because he is arbitration-eligible, his salary could jump exponentially from the $465,000 he made last year.

Bailey, who is represented by Hendricks Sports Management, says he doesn't worry much about the coming negotiations or about the increased trade rumors.

If it weren't for his friends filling him in on all the trade rumors, he said he wouldn't be well versed on the topic.

"I only pay attention because friends and family from mostly South Jersey and my college buddies [at Wagner] say I am going to the Reds, or Red Sox, or Phillies, but really I know as much as you do," Bailey said.

"It's cool to be wanted and hear different teams are interested in me, but I can't worry about the speculation until something happens."

Until then, he is preparing the same way for another season.

What he does worry about is having a successful event.

"We had such a successful one in Connecticut that I want this one to go well," he said.

Bailey understands that the life of an athlete isn't forever. His injury last season showed him that nothing is assured long-term, so he's trying to take advantage of the visibility he enjoys to help others.

"I have a platform to speak of and to be able to try to bring people together to benefit Children's Hospital and the foundation," he said. "Hopefully in 10 years, I will still have a platform, so to speak, but if not, I want to take advantage of it now."

In three years, Bailey has burst on the baseball scene with 75 saves. His best save is still to come, beginning on Jan. 7.


Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, mnarducci@phillynews.com, or @sjnard on Twitter. Find his Rally columns at www.philly.com/narducci

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