MLB gets pink infusion for Mother's Day celebration
Players take opportunity to thank important women, raise breast cancer awareness
Players recognized their mothers, wives, grandmothers, sisters and all the other influential women in their lives Sunday as part of Major League Baseball's Mother's Day initiative. Many of them donned pink gear and swung pink bats to help raise awareness for breast cancer.
Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez even dyed his goatee pink before Sunday's game.
"It's a nice way to honor parents and raise some money," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.
Before taking the field, players also took time to reflect on the impact the special women in their lives have had on their careers, consider the sacrifices their mothers made and praise their dedication to raising their children the right way.
"It's nice to do something for the moms, for sure, but you know this really doesn't compare to the stuff that they've done for us," said D-backs shortstop Chris Owings, who wore pink spikes for the second year in a row. "Especially my mom and grandma, the stuff they've done for me, whether it was taking me to baseball games when I was younger, or being at games, or shooting me texts after games this year. It really doesn't compare, but it will be a nice gesture. Last year, I gave my mom the pink cleats that I wore, and I'll probably do the same thing this year."
Reds right-hander Homer Bailey, meanwhile, had a different plan for one set of his pink spikes.
Bailey received pink shoes from two companies for Sunday's game. He couldn't wear both, so he gave one pair to Hall of Fame sports writer Hal McCoy and asked McCoy to wear them in the press box Sunday.
Throughout baseball, players donned similar pink shoes, wristbands, necklaces, sleeves, arm and shin guards and more. They wore pink ribbons on their uniforms to raise awareness for breast cancer, and every baseball they threw and hit Sunday was adorned with pink stitching and graphics.
Astros outfielder L.J. Hoes was among the players to swing a specially made pink bat, which carried some added significance for him. His mother, Gail Hoes, and grandmother, Mary Hoes, are both breast cancer survivors and were in attendance for Sunday's Astros-Orioles game at Camden Yards in Baltimore, not far from where Hoes grew up.
"This is the first time I've been home on Mother's Day in a long time," Hoes said. "It's pretty cool. It's going to be a great experience, and I'm happy I'm able to see her on Mother's Day and happy I get to spend a little time with her."
Houston's Marc Krauss also swung a pink bat in honor of his mother, Jenny, saying it was "cool to have a day like this where we get to celebrate all the great moms." For Krauss, this was the first Mother's Day where that group included his wife, Kelcey, who gave birth to the couple's first child, Ava, last offseason.
"It's the first time she gets to celebrate and I get to celebrate her and everything she does," Krauss said. "She does so much for us. We're gone half the time and that's the only bad part of our job. She's doing an amazing job and puts up with a lot and handles a lot. It's a great day to be able to honor her, and I'm proud of her and happy we're able to do this together."
Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe, meanwhile, was pleased to see Major League Baseball make a different kind of addition to this year's Mother's Day celebration.
Plouffe's mother, Diane, is a breast cancer survivor, but last season Plouffe found out he wasn't technically allowed to use a pink bat to honor his mother and others affected by breast cancer because MLB had an exclusive partnership with Louisville Slugger, while he uses a MaxBat.
This year, MLB decided that all bat manufacturers could produce pink equipment for Mother's Day -- welcome news for Plouffe.
"It means a lot," Plouffe said. "I know she is always looking forward to today. I know it brings awareness to the foundations and brings money to a good cause. And more important than that, it's just showing we're supporting those people who are going through tough times. It means a lot to them."
Once again, Major League Baseball is recognizing 30 women who were selected in the Honorary Bat Girl contest, which honors baseball fans who have been affected by breast cancer and demonstrate a commitment to finding a cure for the disease. On Sunday, the Honorary Bat Girls took part in pregame activities.
The Honorary Bat Girl winners were selected by fan votes on HonoraryBatGirl.com, along with feedback from a guest judging panel that included Evan Longoria of the Rays, Freddie Freeman of the Braves, Pablo Sandoval of the Giants, country music superstar and Braves fan Jason Aldean and Sam Ryan, an MLB Network host and reporter.
Introduced in 2009, the Honorary Bat Girl program raises additional awareness and support for the annual "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" initiative celebrated on Mother's Day.
There was one particularly special case in Cincinnati, where the Reds honored two Honorary Bat Girls. Well, sort of.
"We prefer 'bat couple,'" said Patty Stump, a breast cancer survivor who was chosen along with husband Mike Shroder.
Stump and Shroder, of Mason, Ohio, are both breast cancer survivors. Shroder was diagnosed in 2006, Stump about a year later. After four cancer-free years, Stump was diagnosed with cancer again in 2011. Both have recovered enough to work as volunteers and fundraisers for the Susan G. Komen Foundation and continue to raise awareness whenever possible.
"We want to get the message out there," Stump said.