MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

MLB goes blue for prostate cancer awareness

MLB goes blue for prostate cancer awareness

Nationals manager Dusty Baker is well aware of the statistics. He's just grateful he's not one of them.

Baker survived prostate cancer more than 15 years ago, after being diagnosed with the malicious disease in December 2001. He knows not everyone is so lucky -- to catch it early, and to beat it -- and he is also well aware of the formula that can help others survive it, too.

"Awareness is the key," Baker said. "Awareness and getting it as early as you can, because I'm 15 going on 16 years [cancer-free] now.

"The most frightening, anxiety moments that I had [were] during my six- and three-month checkups. Because you always wonder."

This weekend, ballparks throughout Major League Baseball will be adorned in blue, in an effort to raise awareness about prostate cancer and raise funds for research to fight the disease.

Over two days, teams are wearing the symbolic blue ribbon on their uniforms along with blue wristbands. Also, for the second consecutive year, players are wearing specially designed uniforms and caps to raise awareness and funds for the fight against prostate cancer.

The uniforms incorporate blue into the clubs' regular logos while the caps are highlighted by a blue shadow tech heather crown and graphite visor. Players also had options from two different pairs of blue-infused socks. All royalty payments from the sales of specialty caps and jerseys will be donated to the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer.

White Sox rock special blue unis

Teams were scheduled to wear blue during both days of the weekend, rather than just on Father's Day. The lone exception were the Reds and Dodgers, who are in the middle of a three-game set in Cincinnati. The Reds wore their regular uniforms with special Pete Rose patches on their caps and jerseys on Saturday, in honor of the new Rose bronze statue that was dedicated outside Great American Ball Park.

The Dodgers, always in blue, also wore their regular uniforms Saturday. They will don their Father's Day garb on Sunday.

For the rest of baseball, Saturday's blue bonanza served as a visible reminder of the importance of prostate cancer awareness, much like baseball's pink-out on Mother's Day serves to create awareness for breast health and cancer research.

For many uniformed personnel, this is personal.

Marlins outfield/baserunning coach Lorenzo Bundy is an example.

"It's very personal to me," Bundy said Saturday afternoon. "My dad died of prostate cancer. It's touched home before, as far as that. Me being a descendant ... I've got to be careful, and be checking on that. Any time Major League Baseball can put something out there that is trying to support and bring out the awareness of the dangers of prostate cancer, it's a good thing."

For Brewers third baseman Travis Shaw, this Father's Day is doubly meaningful, and also extra stressful.

His baby daughter, Ryann, remains at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin but is getting stronger by the day, Shaw said, following multiple surgeries last weekend for a congenital heart defect.

"This is obviously my first Father's Day," Shaw said, "so it means a little bit more."

Over the years, Father's Day decorations have become increasingly more eye-popping.

Commemorative base jewels and dugout lineup cards are in blue, and in addition, game equipment can be used for prostate cancer awareness throughout Father's Day Weekend, such as blue compression sleeves, blue batting gloves, blue footwear, blue wrist/elbow/leg guards and catcher's equipment.

For the first time, Father's Day games will feature a blue-stitched Rawlings baseball, the official ball of MLB, as the official game ball.

Players and all on-field personnel have worn blue ribbons and sported blue wristbands on Father's Day since MLB first partnered with the Prostate Cancer Foundation in 1996. This year's efforts also include the annual Prostate Cancer Foundation "Home Run Challenge," which has given fans the chance to make a one-time monetary donation or pledge for every home run hit by their favorite MLB clubs during the period of Thursday, June 1, through Father's Day, all the while tracking where their team stacks up in a "Team vs. Team" competition.

Every dollar donated through the Home Run Challenge goes to PCF to fund critical research to defeat prostate cancer. As of Thursday, more than $3 million has been pledged via the Home Run Challenge in 2017.

Additionally, several clubs, including the Minnesota Twins, Milwaukee Brewers and Seattle Mariners, have pledged a dollar amount for every home run their teams have hit during the Home Run Challenge time period. Since inception, the Home Run Challenge has raised more than $45 million for PCF, the world's leading philanthropic organization funding and accelerating prostate cancer research.

Several MLB clubs will host special pregame ceremonies, including ceremonial first pitches and representatives from the Prostate Cancer Foundation attending games. On Father's Day, MLB.com, all 30 clubs and broadcast partners will express their gratitude by sharing their favorite baseball moments of Dad on social media using #MLBDads, and fans are encouraged to do the same.

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.