Hulking Jim Thome. Rugged Manny Ramirez. Brawny Adam Dunn. “The thought of these big macho men, swinging pink bats to help women with breast cancer … what a novel idea,” Louisville Slugger president John Hillerich said Tuesday.
Major League Baseball granted special permission for players to use the colorful bats : baby pink, at that : for Mother’s Day. They’re part of a weeklong program to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
Derek Jeter, David Eckstein and Marcus Giles are among dozens of players who intend to try them Sunday. This is the first time pink has been approved for bats : dyed at the Louisville Slugger factory, they’re usually black, brown, reddish or white.
Kevin Mench was among several Texas players who wanted their mother’s names burned on the bats. The Rangers slugger, who homered in seven straight games earlier this season, also planned to have a bat for his grandmother, who died from breast cancer.
“My mom is the glue of our family, and I just want to do something to thank her for all that she has done,” Mench said before Tuesday night’s game against Minnesota. “At the same time, we are raising money for a great cause.”
Howard Smith, senior vice president for licensing for MLB, said the idea for the pink bats struck a chord with commissioner Bud Selig and other executives. The question was how many players would use the sticks.
“It takes a big man to swing a pink bat in a major league game,” Smith said.
More than 400 bats were being made for 50-plus players. David Ortiz, Jim Edmonds, Mark Teixeira, Michael Young and Hank Blalock were also on the list.
The Louisville Slugger factory started making the bats last week. Players were still placing orders as of Tuesday, and bats will probably be made and shipped overnight until Thursday or Friday.
“The response has been phenomenal,” Hillerich said.
The bats posed something of a logistical problem for Louisville Slugger. Each player uses a different model and size, so coloring, branding and shipping them for Sunday’s game has been a challenge, company spokesman Dan Burgess said.
Along with the pink bats, players and all on-field personnel will wear pink wristbands and a pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness on their uniforms. The pink ribbon logo will appear on the bases and on commemorative home plates, and the lineups will be written on pink cards.
The bats, along with the home plates and lineup cards, will be autographed by the teams and will be auctioned off later with the proceeds going to the Breast Cancer Foundation.
Raising awareness of breast cancer is great. So is raising money for charity. But why is swinging a pink bat such a big deal? Is someone afraid that pink bats carry girl germs?
But see the transcript of a talk given by Barbara Ehrenreich about the Cancer Industrial Complex (“We don’t need more”awareness”of breast cancer:we’re VERY aware, thank you very much. We need treatments that work, and above all, we need to know the cause of this killer, so we can stop it before it attacks another generation”). Here is a link to her article “Welcome to Cancerland: A Mammogram Leads to a Cult of Pink Kitsch.”
Update: Fred Vincy at Stone Court notes the gay baiting that the pink bat promotion seems to have evoked.
Update 2: Twisty weighs in here.