Mueller-Hinton 'thrilled' to be Royals' bat girl

KANSAS CITY -- Michelle Mueller-Hinton woke up early Wednesday morning, well before the 7:10 p.m. CT series finale between the Royals and the Reds, and thought to herself, "It's finally here."

Mueller-Hinton served as the Royals' 2015 Honorary Bat Girl -- an honor she received after her story battling breast cancer won the Kansas City club's contest.

"It's a thrill," said Mueller-Hinton, a Grain Valley, Mo., native. "I get to go down and watch batting practice with them, and I'm ... just thrilled."

More than 12 years ago, Mueller-Hinton, 54, won her first fight with breast cancer after surgery, four rounds of chemotherapy and 28 rounds of radiation treatment. After five years of being cancer-free, most doctors relax. After 10, patients are considered in the clear.

So when Mueller-Hinton was told her cancer had returned this past year, no one saw the news coming.

"It's a shock," Mueller-Hinton said. "It was just a different mindset [the second time]. In the back of your mind, you're always thinking, 'Will it come back?'"

But Mueller-Hinton is a busy woman, and the cancer was not going to keep her from doing what she loved, whether it was serving as the education director of her church or running the church-affiliated preschool. She even continued to take full advantage of her Royals season tickets before entering remission.

"This is my team," said Mueller-Hinton, who has been a season-ticket holder more than 10 years. "I was there when there weren't 12,000 people in the stands. And now the stands are packed."

Her seats are about 10 rows behind the visiting team's dugout, which she says she likes because she can watch the Royals' dugout and better see how they react.

Cancer or no cancer, Mueller-Hinton says she tries to make almost every Royals game, and even sometimes get tickets to games not included with her season tickets.

Mueller-Hinton joined other breast cancer survivors on the field to be recognized during a pregame presentation.

And after, the chance of lifetime: to sit alongside "her team."

Jordan Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.