Orioles welcome cancer patients, survivors

Orioles welcome cancer patients, survivors

BALTIMORE -- In the fight against cancer, the Orioles are trying to do their part. For the sixth year in a row, the club teamed up with St. Joseph's Hospital to bring cancer patients, survivors and their families to Oriole Park at Camden Yards for Sunday's game against the Mets.

Dr. Mark Krasna, the director of The Cancer Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital, was involved in bringing the group of almost 600 people to Camden Yards. The Orioles donated more than 20 suites and three party suites in the stadium to accommodate their guests.

"It's one of the most exciting things that our patients look forward to all year," Krasna said. "Instead of just having a survivor day where we're celebrating it in the hospital, they all get together at the ballpark, the Orioles host them, put them up in the skybox. They all feel like they're really special."

Prior to the game, two of Krasna's patients received the special opportunity to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Tommy Conelius, an Orioles season ticket holder since 1984 and an employee at St. Joseph's Medical Center for 20 years, has been battling liver cancer for a year now.

"I can't wait! I can't wait!" Conelius said of the chance to walk on the field at Camden Yards for the first time. He described his excitement as "Big time!"

Rachael Minkove, a lifelong Orioles fan who was born in 1983, the year the team last won a World Series, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2008. She reminisced about watching the Orioles as a child, rooting for Eddie Murray and Brady Anderson.

"This is the coolest thing ever," Minkove said. "I was obsessed [with the Orioles] growing up, and now I get to go on the field where all my former players used to play. I'm nervous that I'm not gonna throw it to the catcher, but I'm really excited. Just being at Camden Yards where I grew up is amazing."

For Krasna and his staff at St. Joseph's, the event is a source of inspiration.

"We get up every day and we go to work, and sometimes we're successful and sometimes we're not," Krasna said. "And then when we get to see a day like this, where you have someone like Rachel, who has gone through all the therapy she has, but she's still willing to get out there, walk out on the field and throw out the pitch -- that gives us the strength to go back tomorrow and start again. Somebody like Tommy, we see him every day at work, and he never lets us forget how grateful he is for what we've done, and it just makes you inspired to go back to work the next day and keep doing it."

Noah Rosenstein is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.