The iconic and distinctive jerseys around baseball will receive a unique splash of sparkle on Saturday -- and for a cause that’s plenty deserving.
Major League Baseball announced on Thursday that for the fourth consecutive year, players, coaches, umpires and grounds crew members alike will don gold ribbon decals on their jerseys in addition to gold wristbands in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Day on Sept. 7.
In collaboration with Stand Up To Cancer, teams are also encouraged to partner with local organizations to put their own spin on recognizing September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. From the D-backs hosting Phoenix Children’s Hospital patients last Sunday to Trea Turner of the Nationals visiting the D.C. area’s Inova Children’s Hospital on Tuesday, more than half of all clubs will hold their own festivities over the course of the month to raise awareness for the cause.
Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among children in the United States and Canada. With hundreds of thousands of people expected to enter MLB stadiums on Saturday, the league hopes that those who attend a game will recognize the cause’s importance and perhaps feel inclined to act in their own free time.
On Saturday, those in attendance at select games will see honorary guests throw the ceremonial first pitches, take the field with the team for the national anthem and serve as Honorary Bat Kid, among other pregame ceremonies. Several teams will also donate the proceeds of in-game raffles to local charities and host booths at the park that will provide both information and services to support those affected by childhood cancer.
Through additional collaborative work between Major League Baseball and Starlight Children’s Foundation -- a nonprofit that supports hospitalized children and their families -- hospitals selected by 15 clubs will each receive a donation of 200 club-logoed Starlight Gowns, which replace traditional hospital garments with high-quality, comfortable and brightly colored gowns for children undergoing treatment.
The day’s action kicks off with none other than Yankees-Red Sox in Boston, then features several more divisional rivalries in addition to matchups between teams that are fighting for a spot in the postseason.
Here are the ways some clubs will be recognizing the cause on Saturday:
Nationals at Braves
The Braves will host cancer survivors and fighters in the onsite Coca-Cola Roxy Theatre pregame for a party featuring a DJ, games, face painters, photo booths and more. Each attendant and their family will receive tickets to Saturday’s game and participate in a pregame parade on the warning track. Forty of the participants will stand with the teams during the national anthem. Proceeds from the day’s 50/50 raffle will also benefit childhood cancer research.
Rangers at Orioles
After Chris Davis and the Oriole Bird visit University of Maryland Children's Hospital to deliver gowns on Friday, the Orioles will host members of the Cool Kids Foundation, Inc. -- an organization that serves hundreds of families each year by offering free direct services for children with cancer through academic, social and emotional programming. Those in attendance will take the field with the Orioles players for the national anthem while president and founder Chris Federico will be recognized as the evening’s Birdland Community Hero. The club will also make a $2,500 donation to the organization.
Royals at Marlins
The Marlins will host Johan A., an eight-year-old from Lake Worth, Fla., who is battling leukemia, from the Austen Everett Foundation for a VIP gameday experience. Johan will join the Marlins on the field for batting practice alongside his favorite players, Starlin Castro and Martin Prado, before getting an in-game visit from Billy the Marlin bearing a gift bag.
Cardinals at Pirates
The Pirates, Pirates Charities and Allegheny Health Network will host a special Cancer Support Night at PNC Park in partnership with the Arnie and Winnie Palmer Foundation. The night will include a special superheroes event for pediatric cancer patients and their families, with the young heroes being welcomed early with a VIP party in the park's press conference room and then led to the field for an on-field ceremony. Additionally, the Pirates will host a Stand Up To Cancer night on Saturday as well.
As for actions not coming on Saturday, the BP28 Pediatric Cancer Fund founded by Buster Posey and his wife, Kristen, will host children and families affected by childhood cancer at Oracle Park on Sept. 14, with each participant receiving a collector’s edition Buster Posey backpack and proceeds benefiting grants to research hospitals and charitable organizations that support young patients with childhood cancer. Several other teams will hold -- or already have -- events to support their local communities in the fight against childhood cancer.