The Washington Post

MLB loosens rules on pink gear for Mother’s Day


Oakland left fielder Yoenis Cespedes singles with his pink bat, used for breast cancer awareness around the majors on Mother’s Day. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

A year after players voiced their discontent over not being allowed some of their pink bats on Mother’s Day, some Nationals applauded Major League Baseball’s decision to loosen the rules surrounding pink equipment this season. Outfielder Nate McLouth, whose mother, Pam, is a breast cancer survivor, was perhaps the happiest.

“When [Chandler Bats] sent me [pink bats], I was surprised because Louisville was the only company that could,” McLouth said.

McLouth wasn’t in Sunday’s starting lineup against Oakland left-handed starter Scott Kazmir, but if he plays, he hopes to use his pink bat. Last season, McLouth wanted to use his pink bat to honor his mother and breast cancer survivors, but couldn’t because of MLB rules.

Adam LaRoche was also prevented from using his pink stick last season. Nick Markakis of the Orioles and Trevor Plouffe of the Twins, both sons of breast cancer survivors, also voiced their displeasure with the rule.

Last season, Louisville Slugger made a donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the MLB’s charitable partner, to earn the exclusive rights. Pink bats made by companies other than Louisville Slugger could be used on Mother’s Day if a charitable donation was made to the Komen foundation. If a player used a banned bat in a game, the player wouldn’t be subject to fines or discipline. The bat manufacturer, however, would be in violation of rules. A player could use a pink bat but without the manufacturer’s logo.

According to a Fox Sports report earlier this week, MLB loosened the rules at Commissioner Bug Selig’s request. Under the new rules, companies other than Louisville Slugger are no longer required to donate to a breast-cancer charity if they make pink bats for use on Mother’s Day. Contributions are, however, encouraged.

“I know some companies pay a lot of money to have exclusivity,” McLouth said. “But really? For one day, especially for a cause like this, I’m glad that they changed that. That might have been worse than the transfer rule.”

Players are donning more pink gear this year than last, and more than simply just the wristbands, elbow sleeves and necklaces. Last year, some Nationals players wore pink Under Armour cleats. But this season, Nike and adidas also sent their players pink cleats.

James Wagner joined the Post in August 2010, wrote about high school sports across the region for two years and has covered the Nationals since the middle of the 2012 season.



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James Wagner · May 11, 2014