Father's Day is Sunday, and in normal times, players would don blue wristbands and other specially designed gear to reflect Major League Baseball's long-standing partnership with the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF).
Similar to Mother's Day, when teams adorn their ballparks with pink and their players swing pink bats and wear pink garb in support of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Father's Day -- with a blue theme -- also serves as a reminder that MLB's commitment to fighting cancer and supporting medical trials that do just that is ongoing and effective.
The fact that there are no games currently being played does not diminish all that has been accomplished over the years. In that respect, the show, while different, must go on. And though a live Home Run Challenge wasn't possible this season, a virtual one was planned and came together quickly.
The Home Run Challenge campaign, which normally would garner money for each home run hit in the Major Leagues over a three-week period, this time involved the PCF and MLB inviting baseball fans to make a donation between June 1 and June 21 (Father's Day) with every dollar donated funding critical research for new treatments and detection methods.
"For 25 years, PCF’s Home Run Challenge has raised millions in the fight against prostate cancer,” said Melanie LeGrande, MLB vice president of social responsibility. "Over the years, Major League Baseball has been in a unique position to raise significant awareness and funds through games leading up to Father’s Day, and our clubs, players and fans have been extremely generous to support the cause.
"We take pride each year in following the home run count, knowing that every ball hit out of the park means that much more. Our long-standing partnership with PCF has resulted in historic fundraising, medical breakthroughs, and significant awareness of the disease. The Prostate Cancer Foundation is saving lives and we cannot be more pleased to utilize our game to assist in that effort.”
Everyone that participated in this year’s virtual Home Run challenge was entered in a sweepstakes to win prizes, including signed memorabilia, tickets and experiences for MLB games during the 2021 season.
The team-by-team rundown of prizes is as follows:
Brewers: A first pitch and 4-6 tickets to be redeemed for a mutually selected game in the 2021 season
Red Sox: Coach’s Assistant Experience and 4 infield grandstand tickets for a mutually selected game in the 2021 season. Prize includes joining the Red Sox in the dugout an hour before game time, followed by a presentation of the lineup card to umpires with a Red Sox coach.
Dodgers (three prizes, to bid on separately): 4 Dugout Club tickets (food and non-alcoholic beverages included) and a pregame on-field Batting Practice viewing experience; a Cody Bellinger signed ball; a Justin Turner signed jersey
Giants: Buster Posey signed bat
White Sox: Harold Baines signed jersey
Cubs: Kyle Schwarber signed jersey
Indians: (Two prizes, bid on separately): Carlos Santana signed jersey; 4 lower box tickets to a mutually selected 2021 game
Astros: 4 tickets to a 2021 game
Phillies: 4 tickets to a mutually selected 2021 game
Rays: 4 Rays Club tickets to a mutually selected 2021 game
MLB and PCF began their partnership in 1996, and at that time, there were four treatments for men with advanced prostate cancer. Today, there are a total of 23 FDA-approved drugs, 11 with direct early-stage funding from PCF. In the last 18 months alone, PCF-funded research has been involved in five new FDA drug application approvals.
Most recently, the FDA approved the first two precision medicine “PARP” inhibitors, olaparib and rucaparib, for prostate cancer, which use certain gene mutations (such as BRCA) to target and treat some prostate cancers.
Since 1996, MLB and its clubs and players have helped PCF raise more than $55 million to help accelerate scientific breakthroughs and save lives.