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May 7, 2022

A conversation with a seven-year-old can be confusing to an old man.  At our house, we were making Mother’s Day plans.  We talked about the menu and ways to honor the mothers among us.

I commented, “There will be a lot of pink bats on Mother’s Day.”

My granddaughter asked, “Why will there be pink bats on Mother’s Day?”

“It’s a way for baseball players to honor their mothers, their wives, their grandmothers, their sisters, and especially women who have a bad disease.”

“PK, where do the pink bats come from?”

I explained, “There is a company in Louisville, Kentucky, that dyes the bats pink for Mother’s Day.”

“Oh!  You mean like some people dye baby chickens different colors for Easter?”

I realized I was in deep trouble.

The seven-year-old continued.  “We’ve been studying bats in school.  They usually live in caves or hollow trees.  They hang upside down in the daytime.  At night they fly around and eat insects, especially mosquitoes.  I’ve seen pictures of them.  They are actually mammals and are usually brown or black.”

She paused and added.  “PK, you know it is not good to dye baby chickens different colors.  It’s not like dying eggs.  It can really hurt the chickens.  I bet dying the bats pink hurts them, too.  Why would baseball players be so mean?”

“Let’s start over,” I said.  And we did.

Pink Louisville Slugger baseball bats will once again be seen nationwide in Major League ballparks on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 8.  They are the symbols of Major League Baseball’s “Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer” program.  Major League Baseball, The Susan B. Komen Foundation, and the Louisville Slugger Company have teamed up to fight breast cancer since 2006.

“It’s great to see all the pink on MLB fields on Mother’s Day,” said John Hillerich IV, the company’s CEO since 2001.

“The pink bats jump out at you.  They’ve become the symbol of baseball on Mother’s Day.  It’s heartwarming to watch MLB players embrace the opportunity to raise awareness and funds for MLB breast cancer charities.  Louisville Slugger is very proud to be part of that as we continue to leave our mark on this great game.”

Players who brandished the distinctive bats in their inaugural season, 2006, included Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Jim Thome, David Ortiz, Jim Edmonds, Richie Sexson, Mark Teixeira, Ken Griffey, Jr., Jeff Francoeur, Torii Hunter, Derek Jeter, Prince Fielder, Manny Ramírez, Adam Dunn, Bill Hall, Albert Pujols, Craig Biggio, Vernon Wells, and Lance Berkman.

Since 2006, Louisville Slugger has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of pink bats for MLB players to swing on Mother’s Day at no cost to the teams or players.

“It’s a lot of product and a significant donation, but our efforts have made a difference,” Hillerich said.  “The MLB Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer program is making a significant impact in the fight against this awful disease that has impacted millions of people.”

Over the past twenty-two years, thousands of these Louisville Slugger bats have been sold to baseball fans worldwide, raising additional dollars for MLB breast cancer charities.

On Mother’s Day, 2007, Bill Hall of the Milwaukee Brewers slammed a walk-off homerun using a pink baseball bat.  His mother was seated in the stadium, cheering for him.  A year later, Ken Griffey, Jr. hit a pink-bat homer, and Tory Hunter hit two pink-bat home runs.  Major League Baseball allows the use of pink bats only on Mother’s Day.

This Sunday, for the seventeenth season in a row, more than three hundred major leaguers will step to the plate and take their swings with pink bats.  The Louisville Slugger Company has colored hundreds of their white ash lumber bats pink for Mother’s Day.

Major League Baseball has gone to bat against breast cancer.  The effort has raised millions of dollars for the Susan B. Komen for the Cure Foundation.

More than 40,000 women die each year from the disease.  For some of the players, this hits close to home.  First baseman Mark Teixeira swung a pink bat in honor of his mother, a breast cancer survivor.

Baseball and Mother’s Day have a longstanding connection.

Born in Van Meter, Iowa, Bob Feller became a Major League pitcher for the Cleveland Indians.  The son of a hardworking farmer, he joked that shoveling manure and baling hay strengthened his arms and gave him the ability to throw as hard as he did.  Feller recorded three no-hit games in his twenty-year career and twelve one-hit games.  Nicknamed the Van Meter Heater, the big right-hander’s blazing fastball mystified opposing hitters and eventually carried him to baseball’s Hall of Fame. 

Bob Feller was scheduled to take the mound on Mother’s Day, 1939, as the Indians played the Chicago White Sox in the Windy City.  Feller gave his mother a train ticket to Chicago and a ticket for the game.  She had never before seen him pitch a Major League game.  She would finally get to see him pitch in the big leagues! 

Mrs. Feller was seated in a box seat just above the Indians’ dugout, enjoying the game, when things went terribly wrong.  During the fourth inning, Bob Feller hurled a fastball over the outside corner of the plate.  White Sox third baseman Marv Owen fouled a line drive into the stands.  The ball struck Mrs. Feller between the eyes, breaking her glasses and knocking her out cold.  Bob’s mother spent the next two weeks in a Chicago hospital with seven stitches on her face and two black eyes.  

Sometimes Mother’s Day can be hard on a mother.

I will never forget the year my mother received a surprise package for Mother’s Day.  My dad presented Mama with a shoebox-shaped present wrapped in pink paper with a big pink bow on top.  Mama put the gift aside until we had eaten the fried chicken, green beans, and rice and gravy she had prepared for her special Mother’s Day meal. 

After the meal, my sister encouraged my mother to open the gift.  Mama sipped her iced tea and handed the package to me.  Smiling, she asked me to open her present. 

I tore through the paper and the ribbon, opening the gift.  I could hardly believe my eyes when inside I found a brand-new pair of baseball shoes, exactly my size!  My mother neither wanted nor needed baseball shoes.  I was the one on a Little League team.  My tattered old Converse All-Stars were not suitable for me to become the All-Star third baseman that I hoped. 

That gift of baseball shoes for Mama has become a symbol of the kind of mother she was.  Not everybody is blessed with a good mother, but many of us have enjoyed the advantages that come from a mother whose love was unconditional and self-sacrificing.  It is the reason someone has said, “A mother’s love is a reflection of the love of God.”

There are bats living in the trees that border our property. They hang upside down out of view during the daytime hours. On warm spring nights, they fly out to circle our vapor lights, feasting on insects.  Thus far, I have never seen a pink one.

By the way, Bob Feller played in nine Major League All-Star games.  Even with new baseball shoes, I did not make the All-Star game as a Little Leaguer.  I doubt I could have done any better with a pink bat.


Kirk H. Neely is a freelance writer, a storyteller, a teacher, a pastoral counselor, and a retired pastor.

He can be reached at

Over these past months, I have asked that we contribute to our local charitable agencies.  Thank you for all you have done.  I will continue making suggestions because I have learned that these nonprofit organizations are quickly forgotten unless they are called to mind.  Please know that I respect your freedom to choose agencies that are meaningful to you.  One way to measure the strength of our community is to observe how we respond to those in greatest need.  Please continue with your kindness and generosity.  This week, please volunteer, or donate, as you are able, to The Cancer Association of Spartanburg and Cherokee Counties, Inc., 295 East Main Street #100, Spartanburg, South Carolina 29302, (864) 582-0771.

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