Power of pink: Martin homers for mom

Power of pink: Martin homers for mom

LOS ANGELES -- Russell Martin made it clear how important his mother is in his life at the start of the 2009 season. Martin, whose legal name is Russell Nathan Jeanson Coltrane Martin, added a "J" to the back of his jersey for his mother's maiden name: Jeanson.

Against the Rockies at Dodger Stadium on Mother's Day on Sunday, Martin was one of three Dodgers to swing a pink bat to help raise awareness for breast cancer.

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After going 0-for-3 in the lead-off spot in his first three at-bats against Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez, Martin connected on a first-pitch fastball from reliever Matt Daley with two out in the bottom of the eighth inning. The solo home run to left put the Dodgers up, 2-0, and Jonathan Broxton saved the game in the ninth for Clayton Kershaw, whom Martin caught for eight brilliant innings.

The home run, Martin's third of the season, had a dedication attached to it.

"It's for my mom, I know my mom was right there with me when I hit," Martin said. "I didn't get her any gifts for Mother's Day, so I thought I'd try to hit her a home run."

Pink bats have become annual Mother's Day symbols as part of an overall "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" initiative by Major League Baseball that raises awareness about breast cancer and directs proceeds to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Fans play the next big role in this process, because attention will move now to the MLB.com Auction and the gradual arrival of game-used pink bats, home plates and logo bases and lineup cards. Fans also can purchase their own personalized "Mother's Day 2010" pink bats right now for $79.99 apiece at the MLB.com Shop, with $10 from the sale of each one going to Komen.

Judy Beardslee, a breast cancer survivor, was honored before Sunday's game as the Dodgers' winner of the Honorary Bat Girl Contest. Beardslee is a breast cancer survivor from Pennsylvania whose mother lost her battle with the disease and who has a heavy involvement in fundraising for a cure.

Andre Ethier and James Loney also swung pink bats on Sunday, but were both 0-for-3. Most everyone in the Dodgers starting lineup wore a pink wrist band or two, and even some relief pitchers had some pink bats to swing.

"Usually what I'll do is give my mom and my wife's mom one of the wristbands," said reliever George Sherrill. "When I was in the American League, we didn't get bats. It's nice to get them and be able to give them something else besides a wristband every year. It's great to acknowledge breast cancer."

Dodgers manager Joe Torre is a cancer survivor himself. There was a time, he said, when he didn't think he'd see baseball allowing the use of pink bats. Now that they're here, he loves them.

"Pink arm bands is one thing, but try the pink bats on for size," Torre said. "If you ever told me MLB would allow us to do that, I would've said not in my lifetime. I'm happy for it, it's great awareness. The only way you're going defeat cancer is through research and the only way you can do that is to raise money so we can afford research. I think it's great MLB continues to recognize the issues that need to be attended to."

Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.