Gary White sat on the couch, with a smile on his face, with his little dog Toby tucked under his arm.
His is in good spirits and there’s no way anyone would know there was anything wrong with him.
Likewise, you wouldn’t know White was about to begin the biggest fight of his life.
That is until he speaks.
His voice is raspy, and the volume is lower than the normal.
White, a 53-year-old Corner Brook resident known for his connection to the baseball community in his hometown, has been diagnosed with cancer of the larynx.
White chatted to The Star about his love for salmon fishing and asked questions about how the fishing was the past summer and whether or not anglers would get more than one tag next summer.
White recalled waking one morning and struggling to find his voice. It didn’t sound as strong as it was.
He thought it was a touch of the flu and it would be a day or two and it would be gone. After it persisted for a few days, and his girlfriend, Michelle Daniels, told him to get it checked out, he finally paid a visit to the doctor.
He went to Grand Falls-Windsor to get it checked and two weeks ago he was told he had cancer with a spot on each of his vocal chords.
After looking at the options of whether surgery or radiation would be the best way to tackle it, it was determined radiation would be the way to go.
White is scheduled to undergo radiation treatment in St. John’s, where he will have to endure 35 treatments in 31 days beginning Jan. 3.
The financial burden of an extended stay in St. John’s is always a factor for those facing cancer in this province, but White has come to realize he has a much bigger family than he ever imagined since his diagnosis.
The Corner Brook Baseball Association has started a GoFundMe campaign — Fill the Cap for Gary White — to raise money to help offset the travel expenses to the capital city for White.
When he goes to speak is the only time he notices there is anything wrong with him. His voice is raspy, but he believes it has shown some improvement since he quit smoking two weeks ago.
For many people, fear and anxiety show through when they find out they have cancer, as they don’t know what the future holds.
White has hope and faith. He wants to let the process unfold and deal with it one day at a time, knowing he has the support of his family and friends.
“I can’t worry too much about it until it’s done. You could worry yourself for nothing so I just take it one day at a time,” White said. “I don’t sweat the small things. I’m just calm about it and I put my trust in them because they’re the professionals. I’m just going to take it one day at a time and not worry myself to death over it. Until the treatment is done and they look at me and say, ‘Gary, it didn’t work or it did work, we got it all,’ then I can go from there.”
It helps that he has something to fight for.
He also talked about getting himself back in tip-top shape because his two children — Jessica and Jordan — need him to get better so they can spend quality time in the woods enjoying a good hunt together.
White may have been employed by the association for the past year as the groundskeeper who gets a lot of credit for the immaculate playing surface at Jubilee Field, but he also made a significant impact on the game as a player, umpire, executive member and volunteer for over 40 years.
A true measure of his dedication to the game came this past season when the Corner Brook Baseball Association presented White with the Herb Pike Memorial Trophy for Outstanding Contribution to Baseball in Corner Brook.
White appreciates all the good things life brought him from his involvement with baseball. For a guy who usually doesn’t mind having a chat, he was lost for words when asked about the support of the baseball community.
“I’m blown away. There’s no words. Saying thanks couldn’t be enough,” he said. “I’ve always told people it’s not the sport, it’s the people and friends you meet.”
Corner Brook Baseball Association sets up Go Fund Me account in support of Gary White
Gary White says he wouldn’t know half the people he does if it wasn’t for his connection to baseball in Corner Brook.
White has been a fixture at Jubilee Field for over 40 years. It’s a place that he always had fun, whether it was slapping a single for his beloved Aces or calling balls and strikes as one of the seasoned umpires in the system.
He was always willing to help out, punching lots of volunteer hours. He was always willing to lend a helping hand and never expected anything in return.
His groundskeeping skills put him in good favour with the players and executive of the Corner Brook Baseball Association, getting accolades all the time for the great playing surface players got used to playing on after White had put his finishing touches on it.
White is now battling cancer of the larynx and is scheduled to undergo 35 treatments in 31 days in St. John’s beginning on Jan. 3.
Here’s a look at how some members of the baseball community feel about White’s commitment to the game over the years he’s been involved in one capacity or another:
• Jason Mosher, president of the Corner Brook Baseball Association: “Jubilee Field doesn’t run without Gary White. He did a fantastic job last year as groundskeeper. The field has never looked better than what it was. He had a period of six or seven straight weekends where he was spending 12-16 hours a day at Jubilee Field for our tournaments. You never heard a complaint … it was just, ‘what can I do to make it look good.’”
• Frank Humber, long-time baseball executive: This year we were looking for a groundskeeper and Gary was available so we snatched him up. It was a no-brainer for us to have him work the field. The reason that he won the Herb Pike Memorial Award (for Outstanding Contribution). It’s the hours on top of the hours that Gary worked on the field that he wasn’t paid for and he worked strictly as a volunteer.”
• Rob Myrden, long-time Aces teammate: “I’ve been playing with Gary since 1988. He is a wicked teammate and a great fella. He would do whatever he could for you and do whatever he could for the team. He was just a great Ace. Then when he got into working at the field he was wicked at that, too. He never stopped. He just kept going.”