Major League Baseball announced the 30 winners of the 2016 Honorary Bat Girl Contest which recognizes baseball fans who have been affected by breast cancer and demonstrate a commitment to eradicating the disease. The winner of the Honorary Bat Girl Contest for the Orioles is CRYSTAL SILINS, who will be recognized in a pregame ceremony at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Sunday, May 8, prior to the Orioles game vs. the Oakland Athletics.
Silins will throw out the ceremonial first pitch and will receive pink MLB merchandise, as well as tickets to the game. Silins, a breast cancer fighter, is a resident of Norfolk, Va. who was born in Fairfield, Pa. She has endured a bilateral mastectomy, more than a year of various chemotherapy treatments, six weeks of radiation, and nine surgeries since being diagnosed with breast cancer in January of 2013. Her chemotherapy treatments contained several potent drugs, including one nicknamed "red devil," and following her chemotherapy, the radiation caused severe burning and necrosis. Through everything, Crystal continued to carry a positive outlook and a "can't hold me down" attitude, throwing a head shaving party to shave her and her husband's heads during her treatments. Due to the effects of the chemotherapy and long-term medication, Crystal faced fertility issues which led her and her husband, AARON, to research adoption, and in November of 2014, the couple was given the "greatest gift of all," their daughter, BRIANNA. Now, Crystal enjoys living an adventurous life that has included skydiving, muddy obstacle courses, and CrossFit.
Fans from across the country and Canada shared inspirational stories that provide hope and motivation in the fight against breast cancer, as well as the reasons they or their nominees should represent their favorite team. The Honorary Bat Girl winners were selected by fan votes on HonoraryBatGirl.com along with feedback from a Guest Judging Panel that featured several MLB players personally committed to the fight against breast cancer, including RHP KEVIN GAUSMAN. Gausman's grandmother passed away after fighting a brave battle with breast cancer.
The panel helped select the winning submissions based on originality, quality of writing, demonstration of commitment to breast-cancer awareness, and public appeal (as determined by online fan votes).
On Sunday, May 8, when the Orioles host the Oakland Athletics at 1:35 p.m. on Mother's Day, players and uniformed personnel will wear pink jerseys and caps which will be autographed and auctioned at www.orioles.com/auction to benefit the Baltimore Orioles Charitable Foundation. Commemorative base jewels and dugout lineup cards will also be pink. Games on Mother's Day will use a pink stitched Rawlings baseball as the official game day baseball. Numerous MLB players 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 of the game-used pink Louisville Slugger bats and other pink items from Mother's Day games will be authenticated by MLB and auctioned exclusively on MLB.com to benefit the fight against breast cancer.
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, which is commemorated on Mother's Day. In seven years, thousands of unique testimonials have been submitted, and millions of fan votes have been cast. Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer is an MLB initiative supported by charitable partners, Stand Up To Cancer and Susan G. Komen. The initiative raises awareness about breast cancer, while also raising funds to support breast cancer research.