The Oakland Athletics held their 10th annual Breast Cancer Awareness Day today, September 13, 2008, as 500 cancer survivors came onto the field at McAfee Coliseum. The women, who were wearing pink baseball jerseys, formed a human pink ribbon on the field to the tune of ABBA's "Dancing Queen" as those in the stands cheered.
As the women were filing onto the field, some limping, some with walkers, a young African American woman walked past me yelling, "I'm still here!" and pointing to herself. I found it to be quite an emotional moment.
The woman in front of me did, too, as she kept standing to applaud in the almost-empty stadium. (The fans would come in later for the game, which started 15 minutes later, but during this moment, it seemed that the women on the field outnumbered those of us in the stands. I think it's safe to say that many in the stands were supporting those on the field.) And it was a great thrill to watch Kaki Sakson Moyce, a 56-year-old cancer survivor herself, throw out the first pitch. She leaped with joy with the strong throw as the rest of us cheered!
Ten years ago, the wife of Oakland A's president Michael Crowley learned that one of her best friends had breast cancer. Since then, the A's have held an annual event where part of the ticket revenues have gone to education and research regarding breast cancer. Today, the A's displayed a large check showing the $116,750 they collected this year in that effort, with the proceeds going to the American Cancer Society and Northern California Cancer Center; all together, the A's have raised over $1 million for the cause over the last decade.
The players from both the A's and Rangers took the field wearing pink sweat bands and ribbons on their jerseys in a tribute to those battling breast cancer.
Some 200,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and 40,000 die.
A's pitcher Kirk Saarloos caught that pitch from Moyce. His mother has had several bouts of both colon and breast cancer in the past two years.
"It's a tough deal," Saarloos told reporters afterwards. "She caught it early, and she's had a 100-percent clean bill of health right now. She's doing great. But today is a big deal, and it is a special day for me and my family. It's something I never forget."