Jason Motte’s lofty goal is to strikeout cancer. On Sept. 2, he had the whole baseball world watching him pitch.
It was late 2010 when the Cardinals’ reliever and his wife Caitlin were first summoned from the bullpen in the fight against cancer. At the time, Caitlin’s grandfather was a cancer patient at The West Clinic in Memphis, Tenn., and they wanted to do all they could to help. The “StrikeOut Cancer with Jason Motte Foundation” was founded shortly thereafter.
Motte was summoned a second time when he met Brandt Ballenger, an 8-year-old boy who was suffering from a Stage 4 Wim’s Tumor, a type of kidney cancer. It was his strong bond with Brandt that sewed the seed for a “Strikeout Cancer Day.”
Invigorated, Motte began by talking with teammates and former teammates and call by call he realized he had the support among his fellow players to bring “Strikeout Cancer Day” to all 30 MLB clubhouses and raise awareness and funds for cancer-related charities.
What started as a simple gesture to lend a helping hand to a serious cause slowly transformed into a national effort by Major League baseball players.
Players who supported charities dedicated to fighting cancer were identified on every club and the idea began to take shape. They, in turn, got their own teammates involved. Pretty soon nobody wanted to be left out. A generous partner company, 108 Stitches, was making “K Cancer” T-shirts to sell to raise funds and the Players Association threw its support behind the program. The teams supported the player-driven program, too.
In the weeks leading up to the event, players took to social media to get word out to fans across the world and the program took off. The players urged fans to purchase the T-shirts and wear them to a ballpark on Sept. 2 or share a picture of themselves wearing the shirts on social media.
The #KCancer14 hashtag reached more than six million people from the US to Japan on Twitter in the days leading up to and including “Strikeout Cancer Day.”
Then before each game on Sept. 2, the players took to the fields wearing their team-colored #Kcancer14 T-shirts for stretching and batting practice. Fans showed their support by wearing their team’s #Kcancer14 colors.
In the end, the Jason Motte Foundation and “Strikeout Cancer Day” initiative had done something remarkable. They united all of the players and their fans for one day and for one cause — to strikeout cancer, and in the process helped shine a spotlight on charitable organizations across the United States and Puerto Rico dedicated to helping fight this terrible disease.
For a list of each team’s Player representative and their chosen charity, click here.