Mother's Day to feature pink bats
Game-used lumber will be auctioned off for charity
Pink is a fabulous color and probably shines the brightest on one particular Sunday each year.
That would be Mother's Day, and with the help of Louisville Slugger, on Sunday there will be more pink than usual at 15 Major League ballparks around the country.
With the blessing of Major League Baseball, and many of the players, batters will be allowed to swing away with a color of bat never before seen, let alone used, in the ongoing effort to raise money for the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
After Sunday's games, players will sign the bats and MLB will then collect and auction them on MLB.com, with the proceeds going to the Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. In addition, each MLB team will sign a team-logo pink Louisville Slugger bat and those also will be auctioned on MLB.com.
"We're excited about using the pink bats and helping out a great cause," Rangers first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "Hopefully this is something a whole lot of people will embrace and people around the country will acknowledge."
While pink rules on Sunday, the occasion is far more important than the color.
"It's about bringing awareness to breast cancer and raising money for research so we can stop cancer and save lives," said John A. Hillerich IV, President & CEO of Hillerich & Bradsby Co., manufacturers of Louisville Sluggers for the past 122 years.
The pink bat idea actually came during a visit Hillerich made to Louisville Slugger's sister company, Canada-based TPS Hockey, in March. TPS Hockey had made pink hockey sticks for players in the NHL and more than $100,000 was raised during the weekend the pink hockey sticks were used.
Hillerich returned to Louisville smitten with the pink bat idea and presented it to Major League Baseball officials. Hillerich said Commissioner Bud Selig and MLB President Bob DuPuy both went to bat for the pink bat.
"We expected that this would be something that would draw a lot of interest," Hillerich said, "but it has far exceeded our expectations. It is wild around here. People are calling, wanting to buy a pink bat. It's crazy. The good thing is that it's drawing attention to the cause."
As many as 100 MLB players might use the pink bats on Mother's Day. Each player that wants to participate receives two of the bats and each of the 30 teams will receive half-a-dozen "generic" bats available to any player on the team.
"I think it's a great idea," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "I haven't seen one, so I don't know what it's going to look like, but it's for a good cause."
As of Thursday, the list of players wanting to use pink bats was growing by the hour and more than 400 of the special bats will be shipped on Friday.
"I thought it would be a cool thing to do," Cincinnati Reds outfielder Adam Dunn said. "Mother's Day is a special day."
Among other players swinging pink bats on Mother's Day are David Ortiz, Jim Thome, Jim Edmonds and the heart of the Texas Rangers' lineup -- Teixeira, Hank Blalock, Michael Young and Kevin Mench.
"First of all, it's for a good cause," Blalock said. "Secondly, I feel like a lot of guys will hop on board, so you won't stick out that much. But I made sure [Young] is going to do it. He hits in front of me, so he'll be the guy that breaks the ice."
"It'll be different, but, really, what is four at-bats among 600 when you can help a cause like this?" Braves right fielder Jeff Francoeur said. "To me, one of the great things about baseball is that we can support organizations like this."
Players that already use Louisville Slugger bats will have their signature on the bat, along with their mother's name underneath in block letters, if they wish. Players using another brand of bat can, however, have their name (and mother's name) in block letters.
"When I had found out about the pink bat and the possibility of using it in a game, for me, it's a no-brainer because of what my mom meant to me and what she meant to our family," Thome told Comcast SportsNet Chicago. "It will be a special day, but a sad day in a lot of ways, because you don't ever forget the great memories.
"Once you get the awareness out there, and the fact that Major Leaguers are involved and we are willing to do it and be a part of it, it kind of opens the door for a lot of other people to come in."
With the auction of the pink bats on MLB.com, awareness can turn into help for others, with proceeds from the auction going to the Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
"We really haven't thought about how much money will be raised," said Rick Redman of Louisville Slugger. "We know the pink hockey sticks raised $110,000, and we're hoping to surpass that with the bats."
"Just about everyone has been touched by cancer in some way and MLB has a long history of supporting cancer charities," Hillerich said. "If swinging pink bats saves even one life by encouraging women to get a breast exam, then it's worth the effort."
MLB has championed breast cancer awareness and research for several years.
It partnered with the Komen Foundation for Mother's Day 2005, and asked fans to pledge a donation for every strikeout recorded in games over a one-week stretch. There were 1,362 strikeouts.
The Strikeout Challenge returned on May 7 this year and culminates with special Mother's Day programs at each ballpark hosting games on Sunday. The Komen Foundation receives 100 percent of all pledges.
"Major League Baseball is proud to once again support the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and give back to our fans and community in a meaningful way," said Tim Brosnan, executive vice president, business, for Major League Baseball. "Breast cancer affects many women and their families and we are honored to work with our Clubs, players and the Komen Foundation to increase awareness and help to fund the ongoing battle to cure this disease."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.