Baseball has been instrumental in raising funds and awareness in the fight against breast cancer through its partnership with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, the nation's largest private funder of breast cancer research and outreach programs.
This year, MLB has come up with a unique way to partner in the fight for a cure -- by having fans and donors make pledges for every strikeout during the week leading up to Mother's Day.
It's called the Strikeout Challenge. Fans are invited to make pledges for every K recorded during MLB games from May 1-8, and the Komen Foundation will receive 100 percent of the pledges. The money will then fund cutting-edge research and breast cancer outreach programs across the country.
As one of the top health concerns of all women, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer, with more than 200,000 U.S. women diagnosed this year alone.
Breast cancer is not a disease that baseball is unfamiliar with. In fact, quite a few players have ties to this terrible disease and have worked toward finding a cure as a result.
Major League Baseball and its clubs annually join with charitable foundations in a series of activities designed to raise awareness about breast cancer and the importance of early detection, with all clubs playing at home on Mother's Day participating.
"Major League Baseball is a social institution with a responsibility to give back in meaningful ways to our fans and to the communities in which our clubs play," said Tim Brosnan, MLB's executive vice president, business. "Breast cancer affects many women and their families, which is why we are proud to work with our clubs, players and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation to increase awareness and funding to fight this disease."
Infielder Jamey Carroll of the Washington Nationals was the Montreal Expos' representative last year and said he was happy to take part in the event. His mother's sister, Marilyn Watson, suffered from breast cancer and passed away a day after Carroll was drafted by the Expos in 1996.
"She went into remission for five years, and then it came back. It's just something that is a part of my family," Carroll said. "Anytime there is a chance [to raise awareness], I feel like I should be a part of it since it's something that has hit close to home."
Carroll isn't the only one. Houston Astros reliever John Franco has been involved with raising breast cancer awareness for years.
"Anytime you can help out on awareness of a sickness or disease and make people aware and try to help out, I think it's important to get the word out," said Franco, whose mother died of ovarian cancer several years ago.
Donations can be sent to|
The Komen Foundation
5005 LBJ Freeway
Dallas, Texas 75244
Cardinals reliever Jason Isringhausen is his team's representative, and his wife, Lorrie, has worked to promote breast cancer awareness in the St. Louis area.
"It's one of the biggest killers of women," said Jason. "It's like prostate cancer for men. Everybody probably knows somebody who's had it. Hopefully, they get through it OK. Some people do, but some people don't."
The week of awareness will culminate Sunday, with the national ceremony taking place at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati before the Reds take on the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Country star Trisha Yearwood is confirmed to sing the national anthem, and the pregame ceremony will include Reds closer Danny Graves, a representative from the Komen Foundation who will throw the first pitch, Yearwood and the Hamilton County Police Honor Guard.
"Fortunately, I haven't had anyone close to me diagnosed with breast cancer, but I don't need to wait until somebody close to me has something happen before I try to help," Graves said.
"I do it because it helps people and it makes me feel good to help, not because I have a personal history with it. I just do what I can, and it makes me feel better if I can do something to help."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.