Pitcher tickled pink with auction
Baseball: Conor Lillis-White lost his mother to ovarian cancer
Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 06:00 am
An Okotoks Dawgs was pumping his arms to encourage fans to bid higher when his jersey was on the auction block at the team’s annual Canadian Breast Cancer Pink Day.
It wasn’t unexpected. Pitcher Conor Lillis-White will do all he can to battle cancer after losing his mother to ovarian cancer nearly one year ago.
“She (Deborah Lillis) passed away on August 7, 2013, so it will be a year in two weeks,” said Lillis-White.
“Fortunately, I had a really good support around me, it was something that we were kind of expecting.
“I like to think that in my 20 years, I had as much time with my mother than most guys do in a lifetime.
“So I was grateful for that.”
Deborah Lillis was 55 when she passed away.
Lillis-White’s pink jersey sold for $700, just part of the Dawgs’ record of $42,000 raised at the auction Sunday in Okotoks.
The Dawgs have raised approximately $180,000 for breast cancer research through the auction.
The Dawgs’ “Super Mario” — infielder Mario Sanchez — received the most money for his jersey at $3,200.
It wasn’t the first time Lillis-White has taken in the annual game. He watched from the visitor’s dugout in 2012 as a pitcher for the Moose Jaw Miller Express.
“I was just taken aback at how the community could come together, there was just nothing like that I had seen in the league,” Lillis-White said.
His mother had been diagnosed with cancer two years earlier.
When Lillis-White attended the Pink Day auction in 2012, she was in chemotherapy, but was stable.
However, in 2013, Deborah Lillis took a turn for the worse, and Conor was able to spend his first summer in years at their Toronto area home.
Gripping a baseball was a major part of Conor’s solace after his mom’s passing.
“About four days after she died I flew to Halifax with a Junior team for nationals,” Lillis-White said.
“For me to go to that tournament and win a national championship helped me to understand what had happened.
“I remember when I was invited, my mom was really excited for me. I know it was something she wanted me to do.”
Lillis-White would go on and have an all-star season with the UBC Thunderbirds in 2013.
The southpaw has struggled at times with the Dawgs, with a 2-2 record and 5.59 ERA. He had a strong outing in the Dawgs’ 8-2 victory over the Weyburn Beavers in Saskatchewan on July 14.
“I didn’t kick off the season the way I had planned to, and that was disappointing for me,” Lillis-White said. “But I have been working a lot lately with coach (Austin) Brough and I have kind of regained my form.
“I was happy with the way I pitched against Weyburn.”
However, the highlight for him so far might not be from pitching on the mound, but when he stood about 20 feet in front of the rubber and was auctioned off in front of 3,700 fans Sunday at Seaman Stadium.
“The first reaction among our guys is we were humbled by it,” Lillis-White said. “It is shocking how much support this team has and how much support the breast cancer society had.
“It was really a great day and a big success for everyone.”