HOUSTON -- Belinda Sheldon of Humble, Texas, was named the Astros' winner of the 2016 Honorary Bat Girl Contest, which recognizes baseball fans who have been affected by breast cancer and who demonstrate a commitment to supporting the fight against the disease.
The 30 individual team winners will be recognized at Major League ballparks on Mother's Day, or on alternate dates by teams that are on the road. The Honorary Bat Girls will take part in pregame activities, be honored during an on-field ceremony, and receive pink MLB merchandise and two tickets to the game.
Sheldon, who was nominated by her husband, found out she had breast cancer between her regular exams a year and a half ago and underwent a successful double mastectomy, only to nearly die during recovery due to undiagnosed heart disease. She then underwent a double bypass. During her recovery, she continued to work as a registered nurse, and she is now cancer-free.
The winners were selected by a panel of judges, including special guest judges, who chose the winning submissions based on the following criteria: originality, quality of writing, demonstration of commitment to breast cancer awareness and public appeal (as determined by online fan votes).
On Mother's Day, players and on-field personnel will wear the symbolic pink ribbon on their uniforms along with pink wristbands. Players also will wear specially designed uniforms that incorporate pink into the clubs' regular logos. Commemorative base jewels and dugout lineup cards also will be pink. Games will feature pink-stitched Rawlings baseballs, and many players will use pink Louisville Slugger bats with the MLB breast cancer awareness logo.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.