Players across league wear pink for Mother's Day weekend
By Alyson Footer
When ballplayers get that very first call to the big leagues, the first people to receive the good news -- after the players themselves -- are usually their parents.
Often, Mom is on the other end of the phone, crying tears of joy when her son gives her the good news. Such was the case this past spring, when Brewers backup catcher Manny Pina was informed he had made his first Opening Day roster. His first call was to his mother in Venezuela, and the two cried tears of joy together.
"When I was younger, she was the one always taking me to the field," said Pina, the youngest of six kids whose father worked long hours building funeral caskets. "We would take a taxi to the field and she waited for me, then we went back home and she made food for the family. Every day for seven, eight years. So when the Brewers said to me, 'You made the team,' I came back to the past and thought of my mom."
Major League Baseball has spent the weekend celebrating Mother's Day with its yearly pink-out, where players had the opportunity to use pink bats on both Saturday and Sunday -- a new twist to a time-honored tradition. Louisville Slugger will donate proceeds from the sale of their pink bats, which will be stamped with the MLB breast-cancer awareness logo, to Susan G. Komen and Stand Up To Cancer, as part of an overall fundraising effort that continues well beyond the weekend.
Commemorative base jewels and dugout lineup cards also will be pink, and Mother's Day games will feature a pink-stitched Rawlings baseball as the official game ball. In addition to the pink bats throughout Mother's Day weekend, players can be spotted wearing pink compression sleeves, pink batting gloves, pink footwear, pink wrist/elbow/leg guards and catcher's equipment, all in the name of breast-cancer awareness.
On Sunday, the Yankees will retire Derek Jeter's uniform No. 2. Jeter picked this date to have the ceremony because it's Mother's Day.
While ballplayers and fans come in all shapes, sizes and backgrounds, there is one theme that unifies almost everyone -- their love and appreciation for Mom.
Count Commissioner Rob Manfred on that list.
"My mother was the one who had us at every Little League game," Manfred said. "She was the one who made sure we woke up in the morning and looked at the box scores. She was a huge part of my baseball life."
Baseball moms fill myriad roles -- carpool driver, coach and cheerleader, just to name a few.
"She did everything," said Padres infielder Cory Spangenberg about his mom, Lynne. "Taking me to tournaments, taking me to practices. She and my dad sacrificed so much of their time and money and effort into letting me pursue my dream."
Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said his mother, Andrea Bradley, helped him a lot.
"Mother's Day is obviously special to my mother, who raised me to be an independent thinker," Jones said. "She always told me, her and my grandmother, to use your platform for good. Don't be afraid to speak your mind. Don't be afraid to speak your truth. And if you don't know the truth, seek answers and try to find the truth. I thank my mother for my mental outlook on life."
Often, players credit their moms for passing down the competitive nature that fueled their dedication to becoming a big leaguer. Nationals shortstop Trea Turner remembers being motivated by his mother's ability to do everything well.
"She was the hardest on me," Turner recalled. "She's competitive and she's smart, so she was the one that kind of [pushed] me as a kid. I think that helped me a lot because I try to do everything perfect now, in practice and whatever it is, and I get mad at myself when I don't execute or don't do what I want to, so I think that mentality came from her. And I think that's probably helped me the most."
Astros third baseman Alex Bregman said he learned the meaning of hard work from his mother, an accomplished professional in her own right.
"She's a very hard-working person herself and she basically taught me what hard work was all about," Bregman said. "She'd kick us out of the house after school and make us go play baseball or basketball or football or whatever was in season, on the cul-de-sac. She'd come out there and play with us and pitch to us."
She also was a formidable chess opponent.
"She would never let me win until I was good enough to beat her," Bregman said. "It was always a competition. She was also always there for me. She was a very caring, loving mom, and the sacrifices she made to allow me to get to where I am today, I'll be forever in debt."
Bregman's debt of gratitude was echoed throughout baseball as players were asked to reflect on what makes their moms special.
"You don't think about it as a kid," said Mets third baseman T.J. Rivera. "But then you start to think about all the sacrifices she made for me. It's crazy. I don't know how she did it, putting out the money for me to play and for me to be seen, doing all the things for me to get to college. I can't thank her enough for everything she's done. She's been my rock for sure."
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.