05/11/08 7:32 PM ET
Several Cubs honored to use pink bats
Some players personally affected by cancer within family
By Jon Greenberg / Special to MLB.com
Ward came in to pinch-hit with the bases loaded and the game tied in the eighth inning, and he didn't waste any time, taking Arizona reliever Tony Pena's first pitch to right-center for a two-run double as the Cubs swept the series with a 6-4 victory Sunday at Wrigley Field.
"I'm going to call my grandmother and my mom," Ward said. "I'm hoping they watched the game or, at least, the highlights. Definitely a good day to get a big hit like that. I know my mom was watching, because my dad watches every game."
Ward, however, fresh off a game-tying single Saturday that broke an 0-for-14 start as a pinch-hitter, said his bat won't be going up for charity.
"I am going to keep it," he told reporters in the press room, flashing his usual smile. "But I already got it authenticated if we have any buyers."
Before the game, Ward said he wanted to use the pink bat to honor his mother, Jerri Ward, and his grandmother, Dorothy Hubbard, who is a breast cancer survivor. Hubbard has been healthy for years, he said, and living in Memphis, Tenn. She came to Chicago for the first home series of the season and the two remain close.
In all, eight Cubs were issued pink Louisville Sluggers on Sunday to honor Mother's Day. Felix Pie, Geovany Soto and Ryan Theriot joined Mark DeRosa as starters using the pink bats, and reserve Mike Fontenot got an at-bat as well. The pink bats got four hits total. Henry Blanco and Ronny Cedeno planned on using one, but neither played.
DeRosa didn't use the pink bat last season in a game at Philadelphia, and the year before, as a Texas Ranger, the Mother's Day game got rained out. That's why he was praying for a break in the rain. DeRosa called and wished his mother a happy Mother's Day on the way to the ballpark, dubbing her his biggest fan.
"I think sometimes it gets lost in translation," DeRosa said of a mother's impact. "Everyone wants to say, 'Hey, have a catch with your dad,' like in Field of Dreams. I don't think people realize sometimes how influential mothers can be in guiding their sons to be big league ballplayers."
DeRosa said the emphasis on cancer research is particularly meaningful to him. His father has overcome three different forms of cancer, DeRosa said. Luckily, they were all curable or treatable in some fashion.
"It hits close to home in my family in numerous ways," DeRosa said before the game. "I know this is for breast cancer, but cancer itself has affected my family, including my father. I'm going to try not to view it as a negative, and try to use the pink bat to bring a smile to my mother's face."
Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano was shelved before the game because of the rainy forecast, meaning he couldn't wear pink shoes and use pink batting gloves, as he planned. He's scheduled to start Monday against the Padres.
The Cubs gave away pink hats to fans, and joined other clubs in signing memorabilia for charity and wearing pink "flair" on their uniforms. Several Cubs wore pink wristbands and everyone had on breast cancer ribbons.
Jon Greenberg is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.