Major League Baseball has announced the winners of the 2015 Honorary Bat Girl contest, which recognizes baseball fans who have been affected by breast cancer and who demonstrate a commitment to eradicating the disease. The Honorary Bat Girl for the San Diego Padres is Ana Muñoz, who will be recognized in a pregame ceremony on Thursday, May 14 before the Padres take on the Washington Nationals at 7:10 p.m.
Muñoz is one of each MLB Club's selected winners who will take part in pregame activities, be honored during an on-field ceremony and will receive pink MLB merchandise and will be hosted at the game with her family. Having lost her mother to the same disease in 2007, Muñoz was no stranger to the effects and hardships of breast cancer.
Muñoz, a single mother of a then-eight-year-old, was diagnosed at the age of 31. After breaking the news to her son and seeing his fearful reaction, she says she drew upon the strength of her mother to do everything she could to ensure that tragedy would not strike the family a second time. "I felt such pain in my heart," said Muñoz in her nomination essay. "So I decided to do something and I gained my mother's strength and I refused to allow this cancer to take control over me nor allow it to take my life."
Following chemotherapy, radiation and five years of hormonal therapy, Muñoz was declared cancer free and says her mother and family played a big part in it: "They needed me and most importantly, my son needed me. I am a survivor and so proud of it. I know my mommy is proud."
The Honorary Bat Girl program 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 seven years, thousands of unique testimonials have been submitted and more than two million fan votes have been cast. Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer is a Major League Baseball initiative supported by MLB charitable partners, Stand Up To Cancer and Susan G. Komen. This initiative raises awareness about the breast cancer cause, while also raising funds to support breast cancer research.
On Mother's Day, players and on-field personnel will wear the symbolic pink ribbon on their uniforms along with pink wrist bands. Commemorative base jewels and dugout lineup cards also will be pink. Games will feature a pink-stitched Rawlings baseball, the official ball of MLB, as the official game ball. Many MLB players also will use pink bats, and pink Louisville Slugger bats, the Official Bat of Major League Baseball, will be stamped with the MLB breast cancer awareness logo. Many authenticated, game-used Louisville Slugger pink bats from Mother's Day games will be auctioned exclusively on MLB.com to benefit the fight against breast cancer.