Honorary Bat Girls a Mother's Day tradition
One for each team selected by celebrity panel and fan voting
It's time for one of the most popular and meaningful moments on the Major League Baseball calendar. From the bright pink Louisville Sluggers to the Honorary Bat Girls, the collective pursuit to end breast cancer is a Mother's Day tradition at the ballpark.
In advance of Sunday's big day for moms, MLB and Susan G. Komen for the Cure on Friday announced the 2011 Honorary Bat Girl Contest winners, who will be recognized on the field at MLB ballparks during Mother's Day and breast cancer awareness celebrations.
One winner for each of the 30 clubs was selected by a celebrity panel of judges and more than a half-million fan votes on HonoraryBatGirl.com. That campaign recognizes baseball fans who have been affected by breast cancer and have demonstrated a commitment to fighting the disease.
"Major League Baseball's partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, through the Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer program, represents one of our most significant causes," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "The commitment from clubs, players, and fans alike in the fight against breast cancer is truly special, and we are proud to highlight our efforts and increase awareness through our Mother's Day celebration."
During MLB's annual Mother's Day national day of recognition, each Honorary Bat Girl will take part in pregame activities, be honored during an on-field ceremony and receive pink MLB merchandise and two tickets to the game. For clubs that are away on Mother's Day, another home game in May will be selected to recognize its Honorary Bat Girl.
2011 Honorary Bat Girl Contest winners
|D-backs||Connie Marino||Peoria, Ariz.|
|Braves||Donna Brantley||McDonough, Ga.|
|Orioles*||Brigid Morahan||Annapolis, Md.|
|Red Sox*||Amy Seich||Canton, Mass.|
|White Sox||Tasha Huebner||Chicago|
|Reds||Cheryl Veigel||Canton, Ohio|
|Indians||Beth Ann Vanek||Munroe Falls, Ohio|
|Rockies||Alma Hubersberger||Lone Tree, Colo.|
|Tigers||Amy Maurice||Oak Park, Mich.|
|Astros||Linda Anderson||Pearland, Texas|
|Angels*||Melanie Hansen||Orange, Calif.|
|Dodgers||Alicia Manzur||Upland, Calif.|
|Brewers||Joan Kamholz||Albany, Wis.|
|Twins||Carrie Johnson||Stillwater, Minn.|
|Mets*||Linda LaCugna||Manalapan, N.J.|
|Yankees||Dayna Varano||Wayne, N.J.|
|Athletics||Deborah Mata||Orinda, Calif.|
|Phillies*||Linda Camerota||Brigantine, N.J.|
|Pirates*||Catherine Brennan||Verona, Pa.|
|Padres*||Anitra Rooney||La Mesa, Calif.|
|Giants*||Jennifer Solorio||Sacramento, Calif.|
|Mariners*||Kathleen Willett||Snohomish, Wash.|
|Cardinals*||Alissa Nicks||Maryland Heights, Mo.|
|Rays||Shari Elliott||Bradenton, Fla.|
|Rangers*||Leslie Sewell||Benton, La.|
|Blue Jays*||Joanne Lubansky-Johns||London, Ontario|
|Nationals||Cathy Colleli||Olney, Md.|
Commemorative dugout lineup cards also will be pink. Those pink bats used in games and signed by teams are authenticated by MLB and then presented exclusively at the MLB.com Auction site at a later date to raise additional funds for Komen.
"It's a huge thing," Giants president Larry Baer said of the annual Mother's Day event. "What's wonderful is baseball now has sort of an image and an expectation that on Mother's Day, breast cancer awareness and fundraising is going to come to the fore, and prostate cancer on Father's Day. It's important. Over the years, we've raised a lot. Fans really respond to the initiative, they respond to the pink bats, and the players participate.
"It's critical because we're a cultural institution and Mother's Day is a big cultural event in our society, and baseball being purely a very American cultural experience -- going to a baseball game on Mother's Day and Father's Day -- we want to make sure we look out for that community interest. The pink bats, our players have used them, they make statements with the pink ribbons, and our fans really respond."
The Honorary Bat Girl Contest was introduced in 2009 to raise additional awareness and support for the annual Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer initiative celebrated on Mother's Day. In three years, nearly 4,000 testimonials have been submitted and more than six million fan votes have been cast. Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer is a joint partnership between MLB, its licensed partners and Susan G. Komen for the Cure to raise awareness about the breast cancer cause, while also raising funds to support breast cancer research.
The 30 Honorary Bat Girls were among more than 1,500 entrants that were selected by fan votes and a panel of celebrity judges that included Mrs. Billye Aaron, breast cancer survivor, Komen Global Ambassador for breast cancer and wife of Hall of Famer Hank Aaron; Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, breast cancer survivor and founder and CEO of Komen; Gabrielle Union, actress, and supporter of the cause; Red Sox pitcher and lymphoma survivor Jon Lester; Angels ace Jered Weaver, whose mother is a breast cancer survivor; Twins All-Star Jim Thome, whose mother passed away from lung cancer; Yankees broadcaster and breast cancer survivor Suzyn Waldman; and MLB Network analyst and former pitcher Mitch Williams, whose late mother had breast cancer.
"I have been involved for three years now as a judge, and I can honestly say that every person who sends in their story warrants the opportunity to be an honorary bat girl," Williams said. "My mother battled the disease successfully, before losing her battle with brain cancer, so I am extremely proud to be a part of MLB and their involvement with the Susan G. Komen Foundation to raise awareness and money to help fight this terrible disease."
"MLB's Honorary Bat Girl program is wonderful because it highlights the personal stories of those affected by breast cancer," said Katrina McGhee, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. "The program showcases the everyday heroes who have faced breast cancer bravely and underscores why Komen's work to end breast cancer forever is so important."
Fans wanting to help also can buy one of those 2011 pink bats right now from the MLB.com Shop. They are going for $69.99, and $10 of each sale goes to Komen. The bats are the same model many players will use Sunday.
The Mother's Day Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer program is one of several cancer-related initiatives supported by MLB. Other initiatives include Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), whose mission is to support the groundbreaking scientific research aimed at getting new cancer treatments to patients in an accelerated timeframe; the Prostate Cancer Foundation Home Run Challenge, which helps increase awareness of prostate cancer and raise money for the search for a cure as part of MLB Father's Day activities; and Play Sun Smart, a league-wide, season-long skin cancer awareness program in conjunction with the MLB Players Association and the American Academy of Dermatology.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.