Yanks out to help in battle against prostate cancer
Fans can pledge money for each round-tripper hit during Home Run Challenge
By Bryan Hoch
NEW YORK -- Unlike many big league teams, the Yankees do not dispatch a mascot to wander the grandstands for home games. It has never really been their style; their one attempt at replicating the Phillie Phanatic's energy -- a furry, goofy-looking fella named Dandy -- has been relegated to mothballs since the early 1980s.
So as Paula Abdul walked into Yankee Stadium over the weekend, checking off another stop on an epic road trip seeing all 30 clubs as a goodwill ambassador for the Prostate Cancer Foundation's "Home Run Challenge," the former Laker Girl and current TV talent judge could breathe a sigh of relief.
"Thank God I can take my dancing shoes off," Abdul said.
In recent weeks, the "Straight Up" singer has been challenged to a dance-off by the Cleveland Indians' mascot Slider, partied with the Nationals' mascot Screech and judged a competition involving the four long-gone presidents who typically race around the field in D.C.
On Wednesday, Abdul will return to the big ballpark in the Bronx, joined by Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, former Yankees manager Joe Torre and former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda. They will join Michael Milken, chairman of the foundation launched in 1993 with the vision of curing prostate cancer.
"I have lost family members and really good friends, and so this is my fourth year," Abdul said. "What Michael Milken is doing, anything that I can do to help lend support and raise awareness, help raise money, I'm here to do so. I have great admiration and fondness for all of the Milkens."
Milken's personal experiences inspired him to create the "Keep Dad in the Game" program. Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1993, he was advised to begin putting his affairs in order.
"They told me I had 12 to 18 months to live," Milken said. "When I went to visit the leading doctor, he told my wife and I that we should get a psychiatrist and a psychologist for the kids. I told him, 'I think I need to try something first before I do that.' I couldn't be happier to be here today in 2015."
The PFC and MLB are honoring fathers everywhere this month with the 20th annual Home Run Challenge. From June 15-21, fans are invited to donate to help find a cure for prostate cancer at homerunchallenge.org by pledging a donation for each of their team's home runs or every home run hit during the challenge.
The Home Run Challenge will cover 105 games. Fans can also visit the Web site to make a one-time donation or receive more information about prostate cancer and current research. Currently, one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, with a new diagnosis every 2.4 minutes on average.
Milken said that he is pleased to see the continued support of the PFC, which benefits research at several leading New York institutions. Among them: Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York Presbyterian Hospital/Cornell University and Columbia University.
"There was really nothing going on in 1993 or 1994 in prostate cancer to speak of when we started," Milken said. "Today, the awareness, the programs, everything, we can attribute a lot of it to Major League Baseball, the Yankees and what was has occurred in this period of time."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.