Players, managers, coaches promote fight against breast cancer
By Doug Miller
Displays of appreciation and gratitude for all mothers were exhibited throughout Major League Baseball on Sunday as clubs and players paid tribute to the most important women in their lives on Mother's Day.
Players, coaches and managers proved that real men wear pink, and that color -- and cause -- unified every MLB team, regardless of the names on the front of their uniforms.
All players and on-field personnel wore the symbolic pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness on their specially-designed Mother's Day uniforms, which incorporated pink into clubs' regular logos. Commemorative base jewels and lineup cards were also pink, while game balls featured pink stitching. Pink bats, armbands, cleats and other equipment were also widespread.
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.
And once the games started, the players started to think -- and play -- pink.
Take Javier Baez of the Cubs, for example. Prior to Sunday's game against the Nationals in front of 41,233 at Wrigley Field, he posted a photo of his pink bats, batting gloves, shoes and shirt onto Instagram with the message "Happy Mother's Day." Then he sent a message to Washington and the rest of the Majors with a 13th-inning walk-off homer with one of the pink bats.
"This is one of those days we all look forward to," Chicago's Kris Bryant said of Mother's Day. "It's great -- we're all wearing pink. Today is for them. If it wasn't for my mom, I wouldn't be here. I'm grateful for everything she's done for me. It's a day to show all of our moms we appreciate them."
Baez wasn't the only one around the big leagues getting a big hit with the pink lumber.
Red Sox slugger David Ortiz hit two homers in what figures to be the last pink-bat game in his great career. He said his late mother, Angela Rose Arias, and his wife and the mother of his three children, Tiffany, were on his mind.
"I think I picked a really good day to hit two homers -- Mother's Day," Ortiz said.
Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, meanwhile, said his mom was excited to see her boy's special footwear for the day.
"She wants me to send her a picture of my pink cleats on," he said, "because she couldn't get me to wear pink when I was younger, and now that I'm in the big leagues, I am."
Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano had been hitting home runs all week long, but Sunday's long ball against the Astros, hit with a pink bat, might have meant a little extra for Cano, even if it came in a 5-1 loss.
"It's always good to call your mother and say, 'That one was for you,'" Cano said after the game. "It's a special day, so those are days you want to deliver."
It was the second time in his career that he's delivered a ball into the outfield seats with a pink bat. Cano said he hit one in 2013 against the Royals while playing for the Yankees. And in Miami, the Phillies and Marlins both had moments at the plate bathed in pink.
The Phillies ended up winning the game, 6-5, and they wouldn't have done it without Andres Blanco, whose go-ahead RBI double in the eighth inning was hit with a pink bat. Blanco stood on second base, wearing pink shoes and pink high socks and pointed to the sky to honor his late mother and grandmother on Mother's Day.
"That's for mom, and grandma passed away a couple of days ago," Blanco said. "It's appreciation and gratitude. … I'm reminded of what [my mom] always told me growing up, that if you want to do something, do it good, and if you want to be great, you've got to go out there and do everything exactly the way they ask you to and practice hard to get better."
On the other side of the diamond at Marlins Park, Chris Johnson hit his first homer of the season in a pinch-hitting situation in the seventh inning. He did it while wearing plenty of pink and blew a kiss to his wife as he rounded the bases.
"Obviously, everybody in here has a ton of love for their mom, and we probably wouldn't be here without them," Johnson said. "And then for guys in here like myself who have babies, it's cool that we show them how much we respect them and thank them for everything they've done."
Another Mother's Day tater came courtesy of Adam Duvall of the Reds. He struck with a pink bat for a solo shot in his team's 5-4 loss to Milwaukee at Great American Ball Park, then signed it to his mom, who waited outside the Reds clubhouse after the game.
"I was down to one bat. It was kind of a spur of the moment thing but I thought it would be cool to give her a bat I hit a home run with. It just happens to be pink and on Mother's Day," Duvall said. "It is pretty cool."
His teammate, catcher Tucker Barnhart, spoke of how the day held personal significance as well.
"My grandma on my mom's side had breast cancer so it's a thing that I hold closer to me maybe than some but I think everybody knows somebody that's dealt with cancer at some point in their life," said Barnhart. "She's a survivor. Yes, she's still with us and she's as salty as they come. She's great."
There were similar sentiments echoing from clubhouses all across America on Sunday.
In Detroit, Tigers catcher James McCann had reason to be emotional, having been a 1-in-4 chance of surviving birth due to a tear in the amniotic sac early in his mother's pregnancy. Carla McCann was extra-vigilant in pregnancy to make sure things ended up OK.
"I credit my mom a lot for where I am today," McCann said. "Without her, I'm not where I am. Any day where you can celebrate her is a special day."
Astros reliever Will Harris agreed, mentioning that his thoughts were with an aunt who battled breast cancer.
"My mom is not living, so it's a day for my grandma and my Aunt Patty and my wife," Harris said. "So it's great we can raise money and awareness for a good cause."
In San Francisco, Giants catcher Trevor Brown, who celebrated Mother's Day with his mom on Friday because she had to work Sunday, sported pink cleats, a special pink wristband and all the other bright spots on his uniform.
"I just think it's really cool to play for a higher cause today," Brown said. "It's an exciting day. Wearing custom gear and everything, it's cool to do all of this stuff for just one day."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy agreed.
"There's nobody who influences your life more than your mom," Bochy said. "Players have fun with it. I think they like mixing up the unis a little bit, the shoes, the bats. It's a good day. It's Mother's Day. Time for us to appreciate our mom."
Royals second baseman Christian Colon said the vast array of pink equipment available on Sunday made him "want to put on as much pick as [I] can."
"It's an honor to go out there and represent breast cancer awareness, especially on Mother's Day," Colon said. "I know what my mom has done for me. She has worked hard. For all the moms around the world that stick it out through thick and thin, this is a special day for them with MLB. And it's a special day for us as well."
Honorary Bat Girls also were recognized by each team, taking part in pregame activities and being honored in on-field ceremonies while receiving pink MLB merchandise with two tickets to the games. The program, introduced in 2009, raises additional awareness and support for the annual "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" initiative.
Teams who were away on Mother's Day will recognize their Honorary Bat Girls at a later date.
Back in the stadiums, the power of pink could not be denied.
White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier talked to his mom, Joan, on Sunday morning, and got a request: a base hit. Frazier wasn't able to do that, but he did drive in a run and his team beat the Twins. All in all, not bad for Mom. Meanwhile, six of Chicago's starting nine used pink bats and enjoyed the experience.
"You see everyone out there supporting it," Frazier said. "It was good. I know my mom likes that kind of stuff. Hopefully all the mothers can enjoy this day after this win."
The spirit carried north of the border, where the Dodgers visited the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Most of the Los Angeles position players donned pink spikes, sleeves, batting gloves and wrist bands, and even home plate umpire Chad Fairchild wore a pink facemask.
Dodgers player Howie Kendrick had the go-ahead RBI with his regular bat, but it wasn't planned that way.
"My pink bat got left behind, or I would have used it," Kendrick said. "It was in the rack back home, but it missed the plane."
On Toronto's side of the field, outfielder Kevin Pillar had two hits with a pink bat and starting pitcher Marco Estrada, who gave up one run in seven innings, wore pink cleats.
"We're all very proud to do it and we want to do everything possible for the awareness," Estrada said. "It means a lot being able to wear stuff like that once in a while."
Everyone seemed to be in agreement on that point, no matter the team or league.
Texas Rangers catcher Bobby Wilson couldn't help but think about the sacrifices his wife, Lori, makes as a mother of his children.
"it's the hardest job in the world," Wilson said. "It makes my job look easy. … She's such an important part of our family. She's the glue that keeps it all together."
Wilson gave her the perfect Mother's Day gift by hitting a go-ahead grand slam, the first career slam for Wilson.
The Cardinals and their manager, Mike Matheny, had their moms on their minds Sunday, too. Matheny made sure that there was a message by the clubhouse reminding the players to call their moms, and he remembered his own mother.
"She didn't get too caught up in baseball or sports," Matheny said. "She was a stickler on grades and how I treated people and how I handled certain things. As far as baseball goes, she was one of greatest baseball moms, because all she did was cheer and I never had to answer why I swung at a ball in the dirt or threw a ball away. She was there and just happy to be there watching."
Rockies pitcher Eddie Butler is sure his grandmother, Shirley Siros, is watching from somewhere, too. She passed away in 2014 after agonizing complications from breast cancer, and on Sunday, Butler had her in his heart as he struck out a career-high six in six scoreless innings to lead a 2-0 victory over the Giants.
"She followed me everywhere," Butler said. "She wanted to make the journey with me. I wish she could have been here. I wish she could've seen me in my debut [June 6, 2014] and all that. But she's in a better place."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.