MYRTLE BEACH,S.C. – (WMBF) For the last few seasons, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans organization has been on the forefront in the fight against cancer. In 2014, the ball club rolled out its "strike out cancer" series in an effort to help raise cancer awareness. But their efforts didn't start there. Back In 2008, 66 year old Bruce dal Canton, the team's pitching coach lost his fight with esophageal cancer. But it was his love of teaching that helped team officials create the Bruce Dal Canton Scholarship award.
"It really started with a former community relations director, Julie Borshack," reflected Jen Borowski, Pelicans Senior Director of community development. "She really wanted to create a scholarship fund in Bruce's name. He was such an influential part of what this organization meant as it was becoming the Myrtle Beach pelicans organization itself."
Known for his knuckleball, the right-handed Dal Canton spent 10 seasons in the majors, a career that spanned four league franchises with stints with the Chicago White Sox, the Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates. Dal Canton spent more than 25 years in the Atlanta Braves system as a pitching coach, and held the same position with the Pelicans for nearly 10 seasons before he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2008.
"That was a sad day," said Stan Hunter, Pelicans Club house manager and cancer survivor. "Bruce and I had been friends for 20 plus years and he cleaned out all of his locker but he left a small note in his locker which we have the words over the top when you're coming out to the bullpen. 'Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery, today is a gift.' I still have that on my bulletin board above my desk."
Ironically, Dal Canton started out his career as a high school teacher in the mid-60s, and although he was offered opportunities to coach in the bigs while with the Pelicans, Hunter says his love for teaching youth is what kept him with the club. And for the last six years, the organization has awarded a $1,500 scholarship to select Horry County students on his behalf.
"This money means a lot and allows our students to maybe buy a laptop that they wouldn't have," said Marsha Griffin, Horry County K-12 foundation. "It allows them to sometimes put it toward housing, which a lot scholarships don't allow, they are tuition only and so it's just been absolutely magnificent for us."
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