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Honorary Bat Girl Contest begins anew

MLB.com

Entries are open through April 14 for Major League Baseball's annual Honorary Bat Girl Contest, which will recognize one fan from each MLB club who has been affected by breast cancer and has demonstrated a commitment to battling the disease.

Women and men 18 or older can share stories about themselves or loved ones who are "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" by visiting HonoraryBatGirl.com for a chance to be recognized on the field by their favorite team on Mother's Day, May 8. Fans also are invited to visit the site to vote for these inspirational stories, which are designed to provide hope and motivation for those currently in the fight against breast cancer.

Entries are open through April 14 for Major League Baseball's annual Honorary Bat Girl Contest, which will recognize one fan from each MLB club who has been affected by breast cancer and has demonstrated a commitment to battling the disease.

Women and men 18 or older can share stories about themselves or loved ones who are "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" by visiting HonoraryBatGirl.com for a chance to be recognized on the field by their favorite team on Mother's Day, May 8. Fans also are invited to visit the site to vote for these inspirational stories, which are designed to provide hope and motivation for those currently in the fight against breast cancer.

During MLB's annual recognition of Mother's Day, one Honorary Bat Girl per club will take part in pregame activities -- including being recognized during an on-field ceremony -- and also receive pink MLB merchandise along with two tickets to the game. For clubs that are away on Mother's Day, another home game will be selected to recognize their Honorary Bat Girl.

Serving as guest judges for the contest will be Jillian Michaels, health and wellness expert and star of "Just Jillian" on E! Network; Gregor Blanco of the Giants; Robinson Chirinos of the Rangers; Kevin Gausman of the Orioles; Curtis Granderson of the Mets; Jeremy Jeffress of the Brewers; Scott Kazmir of the Dodgers; Taijuan Walker of the Mariners; Jered Weaver of the Angels; Sam Ryan and Chris Rose of MLB Network; and Lindsay Berra and Alyson Footer of MLB.com.

Michaels is an ambassador for Stand Up To Cancer, a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation that MLB has supported as founding donor since 2008. The mothers of Kazmir, Walker and Weaver are all breast-cancer survivors. Blanco and Granderson both lost a grandmother to breast cancer; Gausman lost both of his grandmothers to the disease. Jeffress lost both his aunt and uncle to cancer. Ryan's mother is a breast-cancer survivor, and both Rose and Berra have several close friends who have been affected by the disease. Footer lost her mother to cancer, and her aunt is a breast-cancer survivor. Chirinos is active in the Dallas-Fort Worth community and is honored to participate in this initiative.

Each judge will review a portion of the submissions, and their opinions will be considered in the selection process. Additional Major Leaguers may also join the panel and will be announced at a later date. A panel of judges, including the guest judging panel, will help select the winning submissions based on the following criteria: originality, quality of writing, demonstration of commitment to breast-cancer awareness and public appeal (as determined by online fan votes).

The Honorary Bat Girl program was introduced in 2009 to raise additional awareness and support for the annual "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" initiative, which is commemorated on Mother's Day. In seven years, thousands of unique testimonials have been submitted and millions of fan votes have been cast in the MLB initiative, which is supported by charitable partners Stand Up To Cancer and Susan G. Komen. The initiative raises awareness about breast cancer while also raising funds to support breast-cancer research.

Look over the 2015 winners as a reminder of the true meaning behind the Honorary Bat Girl recognition.

It meant the world at the time to Sara Tresselt of Jefferson, Md. A sergeant with the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office in Virginia and a former outfielder for her Maryland high school state champion softball team, Tresselt was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 after a mammogram revealed more than what she had believed was simply a bruise.

Tresselt fought bravely with an infectious positive spirit for the next four years and was named the Orioles' Honorary Bat Girl last March. She called that honor "probably the coolest thing I've ever done" -- but the occasion was tempered by the news at about the same time that her disease had spread to her brain. Tresselt passed away last Sept. 11 at age 36.

"If something doesn't feel right, go in [for a checkup]," she had said as advice for others. "I think it's important to do your checks and know your body."

Last year, Julie Gross of Duluth, Minn., was named the Twins' Honorary Bat Girl after being nominated by her lifelong friend Linda Louie. Gross is a breast-cancer survivor and an ardent advocate against the disease. Two years before receiving this honor, Gross had lost her mother in part to the return of breast cancer.

"It is a tough time for her," Louie said in submitting that nomination. "But something like this is a monument to moms and all women that we have loved and lost to the disease."

On every Mother's Day since 2006, hundreds of MLB players have used pink Louisville Slugger bats stamped with the MLB breast-cancer awareness logo. To further demonstrate their support for the breast-cancer cause, players and on-field personnel have worn the symbolic pink ribbon on their uniforms, as well as pink wrist bands. Commemorative dugout lineup cards also have been pink and stamped with the pink-ribbon logo.

Game-used Louisville Slugger pink bats and other game-used gear from Mother's Day games will again be placed for bidding exclusively at MLB.com/auction to raise funds for the fight against breast cancer.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.