DETROIT -- On the day Major League Baseball players use pink equipment as part of it's Mothers Day mission to promote breast cancer awareness, Tigers manager Jim Leyland retold one of his favorite stories about his late mom, who tried to pick up his spirits during one of his seasons managing in the Tigers farm system.
"One year I was with the Tigers, hoping to come up here as a coach," Leyland said. "Sparky [Anderson] had his guys. I said, 'Well, mom, I'm not going to the big leagues again this year. They have [Alex] Grammas coaching third and [Dick] Tracewski coaching first. And she said, 'Well, don't they need a second-base coach?'"
Like teams across the Majors, the Tigers used Sunday's game to honor moms and promote breast cancer awareness with pink equipment. Torii Hunter, Victor Martinez and Don Kelly used pink bats, and everyone had some sort of pink gear on during the Tigers' 4-3 extra-inning loss to the Indians.
Brayan Pena's bat had a pink handle. With his first three-hit game as a Tiger, including a two-run home run in the second inning, it was a nice way to honor his mom, who moved to the United States from Cuba a few years ago.
His regular bat was too heavy, he said, to get an entirely pink version, so he had to improvise.
"Moms know when you don't have the opportunity to play every day, you're trying to feel comfortable out there," he said. "Today, it didn't matter what the outcome was. Today is about Mothers Day, and everybody knows that. I'm blessed and I thank God to have the opportunity to have my wife and my mom and my grandma by my side."
Hunter's wife lost her grandmother to breast cancer. If it promotes awareness, Hunter is all for pink.
"This is baseball. This is entertainment. This is The Show," said Hunter, who singled twice with his pink bat. "Just for one day, just for the cause, why not?"
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.