Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported this morning on the "heartbreaking trip from home" of Grant Balfour.
The Australian-native had to say goodbye to his father, who suffers from pancreatic cancer, as the new season approaches and he had to fly back to the US. Diagnosed in 2010, doctors gave Balfour's father only a year and a half to live, but he is still going, as Grant Balfour told Topkin.
He also suspects he may never see his dad again.
On his trip as an MLB Ambassador to Australia this winter, Balfour and his dad were honored by the Sydney Blue Sox, the team his father managed from its inception, and under the first iteration of the Australian Baseball League (which concluded in 1999) owned as well:
the highlight was joining David on the field for a pregame ceremony staged by the Sydney Blue Sox to honor his contributions to growing the game in Australia.
The public address announcer detailed how David was a professional rugby player, how he fought in the Vietnam War, how he got involved first in youth league baseball (teaching himself enough about the game to coach Grant's teams) then became the owner and GM of the Sydney team, how he worked tirelessly to help other players get signed by major-league organizations, and how much he did to lead the growth and expansion of the pro game in Australia.
David was presented a Blue Sox jersey, and Grant threw out the first pitch in his honor.
You can watch the full event from the ballpark here, where among his honors it is announced that David Balfour is the longest surviving person with Pancreatic cancer. You can also watch a summarized look at the festivities below in a well-made video from mlb.com:
The Balfour's are pioneers of baseball in their home country. The future of the sport in Australia is due in part to the work of David Balfour, who owned the Sydney ball club and operated as its General Manager, not stepping down until July 2013 when his cancer entered a third relapse.
On Monday it was reported that Grant Balfour, as the most successful baseball player in the nation's history, will receive an early induction to Australia's Hall of Fame so that his dad may witness the event.
Our thoughts are with you as you go through this trying time.