MLB set to help celebrate Mother's Day, fight cancer
Each club to recognize Honorary Bat Girl at ballparks across the nation
By John Schlegel 5/12/2013 12:00 A.M. ET
Mom's always been here, there and everywhere. On Sunday, she's at every ballpark in the Major Leagues, receiving the recognition she deserves in so many ways.
For Mother's Day, every baseball player's biggest supporter won't only be found cheering in the stands or sitting in the driver's seat headed for another practice or playing catch in the backyard -- but on the field, right there with the best players in the world.
All day Sunday, somebody's mother represents everybody's mother at every single game, with special Honorary Bat Girls hitting the field while players pick up the now familiar pink bats and swing for the fences to help in the fight against breast cancer.
Certainly, the players themselves have their mothers in their hearts as they play on Mother's Day, and some moms even get a double-dose. There's Yvonne Upton, overjoyed at watching her sons B.J. and Justin both play for the Atlanta Braves, and there's Esperanza Hairston, whose sons Jerry Jr. and Scott represent a third-generation family in the Majors.
And then there's Lisa Donaldson, a shining example for single moms everywhere. She raised her son Josh, now the third baseman for the A's, pretty much on her own after his father went to prison when Josh was 5, and the bond between mother and son remains strong to this day.
"She's always been a very hard worker," Josh Donaldson said. "She put the character inside me to say, 'You're going to have to work in order to get somewhere,' and she's led by example for a single mom. It's hard to raise a child by yourself. It's probably not fun to have to do that, but she did a great job."
And so it was just Josh and his mom on the road to the Majors.
"I wouldn't have it any other way," Lisa said. "I beam ear to ear every time I think about him."
That's a mother for you, and you don't have to be a big leaguer to know just how special she is, and how much she deserves praise on her annual day to shine.
Again this year, Major League Baseball is extending that joy to 30 women, who, out of thousands, were selected in the Honorary Bat Girl contest, which recognizes baseball fans who have been affected by breast cancer and demonstrate a commitment to eradicating the disease. The winners, one per MLB club, will be recognized on the field at Major League ballparks on Mother's Day or during an alternative date for away clubs. In addition to the winners, you can read all the entries at HonoraryBatGirl.com.
Winners were selected by fan votes on HonoraryBatGirl.com, along with feedback from a guest judging panel that included Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia, Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen, Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, MLB Network host and reporter Sam Ryan and Maria Menounos of Extra TV.
During MLB's annual national day of recognition on Mother's Day, Honorary Bat Girls are taking part in pregame activities, being honored during an on-field ceremony and receiving pink MLB merchandise and two tickets to the game.
Pink bats are being used again by hundreds of Major Leaguers on Sunday, the most vivid annual show of support, as has been the case since 2006. You can personalize your own pink Louisville Slugger at the MLB.com Shop, and $10 from the sale of each bat will be donated to MLB Charities in support of the fight against breast cancer. As has been the case each year since '06, game-used pink Louisville Sluggers will be auctioned exclusively on MLB.com to raise further funds.
And, for the first time ever, MLB will introduce a new Rawlings baseball with pink stitching and graphics as the official game ball for contests on Mother's Day.
To further demonstrate their support for this cause, players and on-field personnel will wear the symbolic pink ribbon on their uniforms and will also wear pink wristbands Sunday. Commemorative base jewels and dugout lineup cards also will be pink.
The Honorary Bat Girl program was introduced in 2009 to raise additional awareness and support for MLB's annual "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" initiative celebrated on Mother's Day. Stand Up To Cancer, a charitable program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, are supporting partners of this initiative, established to raise awareness about breast cancer and funds to support life-saving research.
"These women represent the many women that battle cancer while continuing to demonstrate the ideals of family, love and service," wrote the person who nominated Maria Heddleston, the Pirates' Honorary Bat Girl, a wife, mom and teacher who "thrives" in her ongoing battle to overcome a Stage 4 diagnosis. "I can't fully express my honor, respect and pride for this woman. Many people do not live entire lives as fulfilling and meaningful as she has led in the past year alone."