* RHP Kevin Siddall (Windsor, Ont.) unleashes the high hard one for the Windsor Stars minor bantams. He never needed help throwing a strike, but now as he battles non-Hodgkin lymphoma at a Toronto hospital, the 14-year-old could use your prayers and thoughts. .... 2014 Canadian draft list 2013 Canadians in the Minors Letters of Intent
By Bob Elliott
DETROIT - Say a prayer for Kevin Siddall.
Never mind that your team is a game from elimination, that you barely missed the subway to work or that you couldn’t find a parking spot.
If you ever had a family member or a loved one suffer from cancer, if you like the game or if you think a 14-year-old should be on a diamond, playing hockey, hoops or volleyball as Kevin likes to do — instead of being in hospital — say a prayer for Kevin.
Kevin, of Windsor’s tough-as-nails Siddall clan, is in a fight after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma Aug. 12.
“Kevin is being moved to a Toronto hospital on Friday, I don’t have all the details, we’re not sure which one,” said his father Joe Siddall, standing in the Detroit Tigers dugout Thursday afternoon before Game 5 of the American League Championship Series.
Joe took his share of blows blocking the plate and being hit by foul tips at Mic Mac Park in Windsor during parts of 13 seasons in the minors from Jamestown to Pawtucket in the Montreal Expos, Florida Marlins, Boston Red Sox and Tigers systems, plus parts of four seasons in the majors with the Expos, Marlins and the Tigers. Now, he throws batting practice to get the likes of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder ready for LIVE action.
This is a curveball the former catcher, 45, and his wife, Dr. Tamara Siddall, never saw coming for the youngest of their brood.
Coach Joe’s Windsor Stars minor bantams were in Amherstburg when Kevin chugged into third with a triple. He was out of breath when he arrived and still out of breath when the inning ended. The next night, at Riverside, Kevin didn’t feel like pitching an inning.
“That’s when I knew something was really wrong,” said Joe. “The ironic part is if he hadn’t had a heck of a game, hit the triple and been out of breath, I wouldn’t have been asking any questions.”
Doctors thought Kevin had the croup as he was having difficulty swallowing. A few days later, X-rays revealed he had a mass in his chest. Off to London the family went, to the Teen Health Centre in London.
Kevin was in the critical care unit and chemotherapy began immediately to shrink the mass. Kevin had four blood transfusions. A tube was needed to aid his breathing for five days. Kevin had to have fluid drained from his lungs and was poked again to have fluid removed from near his heart. The family took turns sleeping in the hospital room.
A Windsor Star story on Kevin needing blood has been a success at the Canadian Blood Services Thanksgiving drive, according to Joe.
At the end of September, after the Siddalls returned to Windsor, pain arrived in Kevin’s ear. He had blood work done in Windsor and then the Siddalls went to London. The oncologist “wasn’t happy with the progress,” said Joe, and suggested the move to Toronto.
“They’re going to try a different chemo and different drugs,” said Joe. “The mass has been aggressive. Doctors have a three-year plan for Kevin to be cancer-free at the end of Year 3. The cure rate is good.”
These other unfair obstacles keep getting tossed into the equation.
“We have a very tight family, all our kids spent time in London,” said Joe. “Their coaches have been very considerate.”
The Siddall siblings sharing the long hours with their pal are: Brooke, 21, who plays goal for coach Rachel Flanagan with the University of Guelph Gryphons hockey team, and Brett, 19, an outfielder-first baseman for Mike McRae’s Canisius College Golden Griffins in Buffalo, N.Y. MacKenzie, 17, is in grade 12.
Joe praised the Tigers for letting him come and go as his schedule permits. Hitting coach Lloyd McClendon and assistant hitting coach Toby Harrah have told him Kevin comes first.
“The Tigers sent an autographed jersey signed by every player with Kevin’s name on the back and the No. 1,” Joe says. “I’m not the be-all and end-all around here ... but the Tigers have been wonderful.”
Tamara, a family doctor, has been a great ally through all of this, knowing “the right questions to ask,” according to Joe.
And Joe says Kevin “has been an absolute trouper.”
“This blindsided us, it came out of nowhere,” said Joe. “We believe that a positive mind set is very important moving forward to beat this.”