Johnson happy to be Tribe's Honorary Bat Girl

Johnson happy to be Tribe's Honorary Bat Girl

CLEVELAND -- Eva Johnson wound up on the mound, unleashed the baseball and watched as it made it to home plate on the fly on Sunday afternoon. She thrust her arms into the air in celebration, as the Progressive Field crowd offered a warm round of applause.

Johnson's ceremonial first pitch before the Mother's Day game against the Royals was part of a pregame moment to honor her road back from breast cancer. Nominated by her sister, Johnson was named this year's Honorary Bat Girl as part of Major League Baseball's annual league-wide initiative.

"It's an awesome opportunity for an unfortunate situation," Johnson told the Indians.

Johnson, who resides in Tampa, Fla., was diagnosed with Stage 3 Triple Negative breast cancer in August 2013, when she was 30 years old. After a double mastectomy, multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, and a few followup surgeries, Johnson has now been cancer free for three years.

After throwing the ceremonial first pitch, Johnson received a bouquet of flowers from Indians pitcher Danny Salazar. Johnson had her son, sister, parents and grandparents, as well as an aunt who also survived breast cancer, on hand for Sunday's celebration.

"My sister nominated me for it, and fortunately I got to be the winner," Johnson said. "We're from Tampa, so it was extra cool to be able to come surprise my grandparents and, of course, throw out the first pitch."

The Honorary Bat Girl winners were selected by a panel of judges, including a handful of special guest judges. As part of the Mother's Day celebration, on-field personnel will wear a pink ribbon on their uniform, along with pink wrist bands. This year, MLB teams will also feature specially-designed uniforms that incorporate pink into the club's regular look. Other items -- the bases, lineup cards, bats and more -- will also feature pink.

Authentic game-used Louisville Slugger pink bats and other gear from Mother's Day games will be auctioned exclusively at MLB.com, with proceeds benefiting the fight against breast cancer. The complete Mother's Day collection -- which includes the special caps and jerseys being worn by players on Sunday -- is available at the MLB.com Shop.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.