Indians find pink bats a fitting tribute
Baseball honors mothers, fights cancer
CLEVELAND -- Everybody has a mom.While this isn't exactly a news flash, it was nonetheless Victor Martinez's rationale in swinging a pink piece of lumber in his first at-bat against the Tigers' Rick Porcello on Sunday at Progressive Field.
"This is a day for the ladies who brought us into the world," Martinez said. "They deserve it." Pink bats have become annual Mother's Day symbols as part of an overall "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" initiative by Major League Baseball that raises awareness about breast cancer and directs proceeds to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Fans play the next big role in this process, because attention will move now to the MLB.com Auction and the gradual arrival of game-used pink bats, home plates and logo bases and lineup cards. Fans also can purchase their own personalized "Mother's Day 2009" pink bats right now for $79.99 apiece at the MLB.com Shop, with $10 from the sale of each one going to Komen. Martinez, Grady Sizemore, Asdrubal Cabrera, Mark DeRosa, Ben Francisco, Jhonny Peralta and Kelly Shoppach all used a pink bat in at least one trip to the plate Sunday. Sizemore used one to notch an RBI single in the second inning, giving the Indians their first run scored in 19 innings of play. In addition to the bats, many Tribe players also wore pink wristbands. And during the national anthem, the Indians unveiled a huge pink ribbon in center field. For an example of the type of woman they are supporting, Indians players had to look no further than the mound during the ceremonial first pitch. That pitch was thrown by Jennifer Torok, an Indians fan and breast cancer survivor from Twinsburg, Ohio, who was recognized as an honorary bat girl. Torok was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer at the age of 29, when her first-born son was almost three months old. She fought the disease and is now a three-and-a-half-year survivor who has given birth to a second son and hopes people learn that breast cancer does happen to young people and is the leading cause of cancer death in women ages 15 to 54. "There is little research out there for pre-menopausal breast cancer survivors, so it makes fighting breast cancer even more difficult for us," Torok wrote in a letter to the Tribe. "Cancer has become an unfortunate part of my life, but I don't let it define who I am as a person. I am here living and enjoying every day with my husband and two little boys." DeRosa said he had no problem picking up a pink bat to show his support for Torok and the millions who are affected by a disease that is diagnosed in one in eight women in the U.S., according to a Komen fact sheet. "Breast cancer has affected a lot of families," DeRosa said. "It's impacted a lot of people [in the Indians' clubhouse] probably. [The bats] bring awareness to that, but it's also something nice for the mothers of players and the mothers who are fans of the team. It's a nice tribute."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.