TORONTO -- It was a family affair at Rogers Centre on Sunday afternoon, as the Blue Jays and Nationals celebrated Father's Day with a sea of blue and plenty of tributes to the men who are so important in their lives.
Before the game, Nationals star Bryce Harper honored his father by unveiling a pair of specialty blue cleats with the words "My Dad Is My Hero" on them. Ron Harper is no stranger to the big league diamond, after previously throwing to Bryce in the 2013 Home Run Derby.
Toronto welcomed 14 children to throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the series finale. John Axford, Yangervis Solarte, Kevin Pillar, J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada, Kendrys Morales, Aledmys Diaz and Aaron Loup were among the Blue Jays' players who took the field with their kids before the game. Players and personnel from both sides wore the symbolic blue ribbon on their uniforms, along with specially designed caps and blue wristbands.
The day turned out to be even more significant for Blue Jays right-hander Sam Gaviglio, who got the start in the series finale. Gaviglio allowed three runs -- two earned -- over four innings in the 8-6 victory, but nobody can blame him if his mind quickly turned to other things. Gaviglio departed the team after his outing to attend the birth of his first child.
"My wife and I are expecting our first child, so I'm going to be flying back home to southern Oregon," Gaviglio said. "It's going to be a little bit of a trip, but I'm going to make it there tonight."
The goal of Sunday's events is to raise awareness and funds for the fight against prostate cancer. All royalty payments from the sales of specialty hats and apparel will go to the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Stand Up to Cancer. Commemorative base jewels and dugout lineup cards were also blue to mark the occasion. Players and on-field personnel have worn blue ribbons and wristbands on Father's Day since MLB partnered with the Prostate Cancer Foundation in 1996.
This weekend's events also include the annual Prostate Cancer Foundation "Home Run Challenge," during which fans were given the chance to make a one-time monetary donation or pledge for every home run hit by their favorite MLB clubs from June 1 until Father's Day (June 17). As of early Sunday afternoon, more than $2.3 million had been pledged for the PCF, which is the world's leading philanthropic organization funding and accelerating prostate cancer research.
Per Major League Baseball, PCF has raised more than $745 million for prostate cancer research, and it has provided funding to more than 2,000 research programs at nearly 200 cancer centers and universities, resulting in 15 FDA-approved drugs available for prostate cancer treatment. One in nine men are predicted to be diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. For more information about PCF, please visit PCF.org.