Inspiring Yanks bat girl enjoys festivities
Baur throws out the first pitch as part of cancer initiative
NEW YORK -- Sitting in the dugout at Yankee Stadium before Wednesday night's game between the Yankees and Rays, Lori Baur covered the bottom half of her face with trembling hands. The 40-year-old honorary bat girl for the evening had handled most of the pregame festivities thus far with a poise that had belied her excitement -- right up until Derek Jeter extended his hand for a handshake.
Baur has been a Yankees fan since the early 1990s when she moved to New York from Chicago. A former Cubs fan, she knew she couldn't pull for the Mets, and so she "basically fell in love" with the Yankees. She even went so far as to demand that her future husband, Fredi Mely, stop wearing his Red Sox hat.
So when Baur, suffering from terminal breast cancer, was selected as the honorary bat girl as part of a joint effort between the Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer initiative and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, she could barely believe it. And that feeling was just perpetuated all Wednesday at the Stadium, as she attended batting practice, brought out the lineup card and threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Nick Swisher.
"I can't even comprehend it. It's one of the best days of my life," Baur said, later placing it only behind her wedding. "It means so much not just to me, but to all the people who support me. It means a lot to all my friends and family."
Baur brought along her husband -- with a Yankees hat on, of course -- and a group of supporters donning "Team Lori" shirts that included her parents. Jeter was but the culmination of a long list of players who chatted with Baur in the dugout, including Swisher, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Andy Pettitte.
"I don't know if it's ever going to be completely real," Baur said of the experience.
Baur was originally diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002. It returned in 2007, and by last year, it had spread to the point that it's incurable. Over the past eight years, though, Baur has devoted her time and energy to working with Susan G. Komen's Race for the Cure, among several other organizations.
"Breast cancer awareness is great, and raising money is great. But the most important thing is we need a cure," Baur said. "I would trade this day to not have cancer or have ever had it or to ever hear about it again."
Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.