"What more joy can a father have than to see his son use the gift he has been given with the talent that he has?" Air Force veteran David Affeldt says of his son, Jeremy, the Giants' pitcher. It captures the sentiment of many dads, including former pitcher Tom Gordon, who will spend time around Dodger Stadium on Sunday with son Dee after having just attended the First-Year Player Draft to see another son, Nick, go fifth overall to Minnesota.
It's the annual tradition of celebrating Father's Day by sending an important message to the millions who will be watching baseball. MLB is teaming up with the Prostate Cancer Foundation again to raise awareness about prostate cancer and raise funds for research to fight the disease. On Father's Day, players, managers, coaches, trainers, umpires and groundskeepers will wear blue wristbands and blue ribbon uniform decals. Additionally, clubs will host pregame ceremonies and use a special blue MLB Father's Day lineup card.
"If cancer doesn't hit you directly, it hits you indirectly," said Marlins third-base coach and former player Brett Butler, a father of four who has survived prostate cancer, as well as a stroke and throat cancer. "It's going to affect somebody in your family. Why? Is it the food? Is it the environment? Who knows what it is now? When I had my cancer, I was shocked. I lost my dad to a heart attack, I lost my mother to brain cancer. So there is always an awareness about good health, and being able to eat right, and exercise, and make sure you're taking care of yourself, because let's face it, we only get one body."
MLB Charities has committed $50,000 to the Prostate Cancer Foundation as part of this weekend's effort. You can also get involved in the ongoing 19th annual Prostate Cancer Foundation Home Run Challenge, which gives fans the chance to make a monetary pledge for each homer clubbed during all scheduled MLB games this week. Entering Thursday's action, baseball fans, clubs and PCF donors had collectively pledged $6,067.78 per homer hit beginning June 9. Based on previous year's home run totals, more than $1 million is expected to be raised.
This challenge is a joint initiative among MLB, the MLB Players Association and the PCF. Since its inception, the initiative has raised more than $45 million for PCF, the world's leading philanthropic organization funding and accelerating prostate cancer research.
Founded in 1993, PCF has raised more than $575 million and provided funding to more than 2,000 research projects at nearly 200 institutions in 18 countries around the world. For more information about PCF, please visit MLBCommunity.org or PCF.org.
In addition to the initiatives benefiting prostate cancer awareness, individual clubs that are home Sunday will do it up right for dads as usual. For example, consider the promotion surrounding the Dodgers' day game against Arizona: Father's Day Sports Bag and Postgame Catch. Or at Comerica Park, where the Tigers will host the Twins and all kids 14 and under (and dads) in attendance will receive a free "Dad and Me" Father's Day photo frame.
Take some time on this special weekend to absorb some profound parental advice found in many of the 30 Father's Day stories filed by MLB.com beat reporters. Consider the words of Johnny Rodriguez, manager of the Cardinals' Johnson City Rookie league affiliate, who has this to say about his son, Rays veteran infielder Sean Rodriguez:
"Sean has four children and a wife. You know how hard it is nowadays. I know he has a nice job, but I said, 'Now that you're there, you have to sustain it' -- and in life, nothing is gonna be given on a platter. I see too many players babied -- the reason they don't perform in the big leagues is because they're babied.
"You have to teach men to be men -- if not what are we doing? We're creating babies."
Visit MLBCommunity.org to get more information on year-round charitable programs and community initiatives within the national pastime, and to see ways you can be involved.