Rangers honor local cancer patient as bat girl

Rangers honor local cancer patient as bat girl

ARLINGTON -- Kimberly Locke knew she'd want to attend the Mother's Day game at Globe Life Park after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in early January. A surprise by her husband made Sunday even more special.

Locke, an Arlington native, was selected as the honorary bat girl for Sunday's game against the A's and threw out the first pitch after her husband nominated her through the MLB's Honorary Bat Girl program.

The Honorary Bat Girl program was introduced in 2009 to raise awareness and support for MLB's annual "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" initiative each Mother's Day. A panel of judges selected winners for each club from a field of submissions. The Rangers also brought 150 local breast cancer survivors onto the field before the game.

"I'm a huge baseball fan. Every year, I see the pink, and I knew about it," Locke said. "I found out in December and was diagnosed in early January. At that point, I knew it was a game I would attend no matter what. My husband found out about the Honorary Bat Girl and decided to nominate me. He wrote up the nomination.

"One night he came over and said, 'You should have an e-mail from MLB.' So I pulled up my inbox, and there's an e-mail from MLB, asking me to approve a nomination."

John was hoping to keep the whole thing a surprise, but his wife had to confirm it. It was the latest move the couple has made to get involved in breast cancer awareness and support.

"We had talked about going to the game anyway, and she's getting involved in things, Susan G. Komen," John said. "I was looking at games and I saw it, saw honorary bat girl nominations were being taken. I started writing and put in the nomination, and here we are."

Locke found out she was selected when she was at her job at an electronics distribution company, and the emotion was overwhelming. She underwent surgery in February and recently finished radiation treatment. The next phase is hormone therapy.

"I was at work, and I cried a lot. The tears were just thinking of what I've been through, the people before me that battle hard," Locke said. "I've been blessed and lucky with what I have been through. A lot of emotions, a lot of tears. People at work were not sure what had happened. I said, 'It' good, it's good,' and I couldn't say anything else. I'm honored and excited to represent the Rangers. I've been a huge fan almost as long as I can remember. It's a huge honor."

Locke said she and her husband attend around 10-12 games a year, and Sunday's game against Oakland was their fourth of the 2017 season.

Family, coworkers and other friends came to the game to support her, and she started working on her pitch as soon as she was notified she was selected. Locke played softball growing up, and John served as the catcher in practice.

"I have been practicing, with my catcher in my husband. We've been practicing since I found out," she said. "We'll see. I got some pointers from Matt Bush, and he said I could blame him if anything goes wrong. It'll be good."

Locke was emotional when she was introduced on the field before the game. The throw came in fast and high, just as they had worked on, and the crowd cheered.

Chris Vannini is a contributor to MLB.com based in Dallas. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.