CINCINNATI -- A great holiday and a charitable cause brought crowds to their feet Sunday in Great American Ball Park and all across the country. Major League Baseball celebrated Mother's Day and honored the continuing effort to raise funds and awareness in the battle against breast cancer. Throughout the Major Leagues, home stadiums featured on-field pregame ceremonies. Game uniforms and fields were emblazoned with the pink ribbon that has come to represent the cause. Players also wore symbolic pink wristbands during the games.
And Cincinnati served as the central location for the festivities, with special ceremonies before the Reds played the Los Angeles Dodgers. Grammy Award-winning country star Trisha Yearwood sang a poignant a cappella rendition of the National Anthem and a short video played on the scoreboard while Reds Mother's Day representative Danny Graves stood by with representatives of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. "A lot of people lose their lives from this, and being a spokesman is really the least I can do," Graves said. "It's a great cause and one I'm happy to be involved with." Sunday night culminated MLB's "Strikeout Challenge," which had fans and donors making pledges for every strikeout during the week leading up to Mother's Day. Fans were 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, helping to fund cutting-edge research and breast cancer outreach programs across the country. The pledge forms were available at MLB.com all week. 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. Dodgers Mother's Day representative Milton Bradley said he's involved because his mother, Charlena Rector, is a breast cancer survivor. Rector was diagnosed in September 2002 and is recovered and doing well today. "My mom stayed positive through it because she's positive about everything," Bradley said. "It's always scary because when you talk about cancer, you talk about dying. It's something we need to make people aware of and make sure they get tested and treated early." The Komen Foundation, the nation's largest private funder of breast cancer research and outreach programs, does exactly that. And the money will be pouring in for more research and treatment after Sunday. Through Saturday, there had been 1,173 strikeouts during the "Strikeout Challenge" week. Graves said causes like this one give baseball players a chance to show the public that they can make a difference. "People don't realize that we do have hearts even though we're athletes," Graves said. "We're human beings, too, and we're capable of doing things to help people."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.