Fundraising initiatives to take place league-wide today
By Mark Newman
Labor Day Weekend will begin with a purpose.
Major League Baseball announced on Wednesday that it has launched a league-wide effort by dedicating a special Childhood Cancer Awareness Day at all of its ballparks hosting games today -- starting with the potential postseason-preview day game at Wrigley Field between the Giants and Cubs, and followed by a full slate of night games around the Majors.
In partnership with Stand Up To Cancer, MLB has encouraged clubs to support this new initiative in commemoration of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month through a variety of special events. All Major League players, coaches, umpires and grounds-crew members will wear gold-ribbon decals and wristbands to further promote awareness for childhood cancer, which is the leading cause of death by disease in children aged 15 and under in the United States.
In Canada, more than 1,500 children will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Every year, an estimated 250,000 new cases of cancer affect children under the age of 20 worldwide.
"Advocating for the health and well-being of young people affected by this terrible disease is a cause that Major League Baseball and our clubs are proud to support," Commissioner Rob Manfred said. "Through our league-wide effort, we will join Stand Up To Cancer and many organizations dedicated to this fight in a unified demonstration of our sport's commitment to ending childhood cancer."
Hall of Famer Tom Glavine and his wife Chris are advocates for the fight against childhood cancer, and they are long-standing supporters of CURE Childhood Cancer. They played an important role in the development of this new league-wide initiative.
"For the 12 past years, Chris and I have been involved in the fight against childhood cancer," Glavine said. "One of the challenges we have experienced is the lack of awareness surrounding how different it is from cancer that affects adults. We have made it our goal to leave no stone unturned in bringing awareness to a new level, and we are honored that MLB has brought the tragedy of childhood cancer to the national spotlight. This initiative by MLB will go a long way in giving the kids battling this disease the voice they so deserve. We thank Commissioner Manfred, MLB and all MLB clubs for taking on this fight."
An estimated half-million fans are expected to enter the gates at 15 ballparks today, based on figures from the corresponding date a year ago, so that's how many people are about to be asked to join those fighting hard to stop pediatric cancer.
Clubs may choose to partner with local nonprofits, including hospital partners or organizations focused on childhood cancer. Additional options for clubs to show their support for the effort include check presentations to nonprofits and hospitals, and youth cancer survivors' participation in pregame ceremonies.
Special guests will participate in pregame ceremony activities such as ceremonial first pitches and announcing "Play Ball!" Clubs and players may also donate tickets, ballpark suites and funds to Stand Up To Cancer and local partner organizations.
Here are a few examples of various clubs' plans for MLB's Childhood Cancer Awareness Day:
Giants at Cubs
The Cubs will don a special childhood cancer awareness shirt for batting practice, in addition to gold wristbands and decals, in a daytime setting that will be at fever pitch given the presence of two clubs that may be on track to meet early in the postseason.
Angels at Mariners
For their first Childhood Cancer Awareness event at Safeco Field, the Mariners will partner with G1ve A Buck Fund to raise awareness and research funds for Seattle Children's highly successful immunotherapy trial, Strong Against Cancer. Through a special ticketing offer, fans can receive a Mariners G1ve A Buck Night T-shirt and refreshments in a special pregame event.
Tigers at Royals
Jamie Gordon, wife of outfielder Alex Gordon, and the Royals wives and their children will sell lemonade and mystery bags featuring a baseball autographed by Kansas City players to raise money for the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation. The Royals will collect colorful and fun bandages throughout the series against Detroit to benefit Noah's Bandage Project. Each donated box of bandages will go to Noah's Bandage Project for children in area hospitals to have during treatment. Royals Charities will sell Braden's Hope for Childhood Cancer calendars featuring a player with a child currently battling or who has battled cancer. In addition, representatives from the University of Kansas Hospital will be on site to distribute information, special guests will participate in pregame ceremonies, and PSAs will run on CrownVision.
Braves at Phillies
The Phillies are partnering with Nemours Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children and the Nemours Foundation for Childhood Cancer Awareness Day. Among the many initiatives that night, pediatric cancer patients will be involved as honorary groundskeepers, take part in a first-pitch ceremony, and a special Lineup of Courage will feature nine kids battling cancer meeting players as they take the field. The Phillies will also provide a Gold Suite, specially decorated for the nine Lineup of Courage participants and their families.
Astros at Rangers
As part of the Rangers' recognition of this cause, more than 300 individuals from more than a dozen childhood cancer-focused charities will be part of a pregame presentation, forming a human gold ribbon in the outfield as part of the program. The Rangers Foundation and Derek Holland's 60 feet 6 Foundation are providing the gold T-shirts for the ribbon.
Teams that are not at home today have been making plans for other dates to rally with their fans around this cause.
The Giants will be doing their own pediatric cancer awareness day at AT&T Park on Sept. 17, dovetailing with catcher Buster Posey's active role in this cause. Posey collaborated with New Era to design a hat that benefits pediatric cancer, and 28 percent of the proceeds will go to pediatric cancer research. To date, $50,000 has been raised from these caps. A grant was established within the V Foundation in Posey's name that specifically benefits pediatric cancer research and treatment. Posey also will host an event at AT&T Park with Dick Vitale on Sept. 14, and all proceeds will benefit pediatric cancer. Posey and wife Kristin have made monthly visits to pediatric cancer patients throughout the MLB season across Bay Area hospitals, and they have hosted numerous families at AT&T Park who have been affected with pediatric cancer.
On Sept. 9, the Blue Jays will host families associated with Childhood Cancer Canada, who will be recognized during the game and in the game's broadcast. Several of these children will help lead the crowd during the seventh-inning stretch.
The D-backs will once again team up with Phoenix Children's Hospital to dedicate the Sept. 16-17 home games to raising awareness and funds for that hospital's pediatric cancer center in conjunction with Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Together, the D-backs and PCH will encourage fans to "Go Gold" for childhood cancer awareness as well as welcome a special group of cancer warriors from PCH's Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders to participate in various baseball experiences. Highlights will include a fundraising broadcast telethon, in which fans can purchase a special Paul Goldschmidt autograph package for a $125 donation, and the $150,000 that will be raised in that telethon will be presented at the ballpark as a check by D-backs president & CEO Derrick Hall, along with Goldschmidt and PCH executive director Steve Schnall.
MLB Advanced Media will coordinate a digital effort to increase exposure of this effort through editorial on MLB.com, club sites and MLBCommunity.org.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.