As part of an ongoing overall effort to raise awareness about breast cancer and help find a cure for the disease, Major League Baseball took the unprecedented step of featuring pink Louisville Sluggers during all games played on Mother's Day. The many players who used them then signed the bats, and Major League Baseball will collect the bats and put them up for bidding -- with the proceeds going to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
In addition, each Major League team signed a pink, team-logo Louisville Slugger bat to be listed on the MLB.com Auction for the same benefit. It's not often that you can acquire historic items from your favorite Major League club and do something this important in the process.
It was a rare opportunity to see the subject of breast cancer brought to light as prominently as possible before millions of fans worldwide during the live games, and now it is also a rare opportunity for everyone to share in the effort to find a cure for an insidious disease. In 2006, more than 200,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, and the Komen Foundation is a leader in directing funds to the source of the problem.
For the entire week leading up to and concluding with Mother's Day, a running total was kept for the Strikeout Challenge, which has let fans pledge donations for each strikeout in those Major League games. Those pledges multiplied by the number of strikeouts results during that week results in a total that also goes fully to the Komen Foundation.
The pink bats became an increasingly hot topic leading up to Sunday's games, inside and outside the clubhouses. As many as 100 Major Leaguers used those bats on Mother's Day, ranging from Oakland's Mark Kotsay swatting a homer off Randy Johnson with a pink bat in the first game, to Jim Thome using his pink slugger to go yard for the White Sox in the night game. Each player who wanted to participated received two of the personalized pink bats, and each of the 30 teams received six "generic" pink bats available to any player on the team.
"We expected that this would be something that would draw a lot of interest," said John A. Hillerich IV, president and CEO of Hillerich & Bradsby Co., manufacturers of Louisville Sluggers for the past 122 years. "But it has far exceeded our expectations. It is wild around here. People are calling, wanting to buy a pink bat. It's crazy. The good thing is that it's drawing attention to the cause."
Anyone watching the Sunday night game could see all the pine tar on the handle of Thome's pink bat, so bidders will see that these are as game-used as you can get.
"Once you get the awareness out there, and the fact that Major Leaguers are involved and we are willing to do it and be a part of it," Thome said before the game, "it kind of opens the door for a lot of other people to come in."
It opened the door for fans to bid on his and so many other bats right here at the MLB.com Auction. The bats were approved for Sunday use only, so they will show up shortly. MLB.com will announce when the bidding officially begins, and look here for further details.
"Major League Baseball is proud to once again support the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and give back to our fans and community in a meaningful way," said Tim Brosnan, executive vice president of business for Major League Baseball. "Breast cancer affects many women and their families, and we are honored to work with our clubs, players and the Komen Foundation to increase awareness and help to fund the ongoing battle to cure this disease."
In addition to the Strikeout Challenge and the MLB.com Auction of the pink bats, donations also may be sent to:
Susan G. Komen Foundation
5005 LBJ Freeway
Dallas, Texas 75244
Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. Jim Street contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.