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Longtime Rox fan 'G-ma' Honorary Bat Girl

Longtime Rox fan 'G-ma' Honorary Bat Girl

Longtime Rox fan 'G-ma' Honorary Bat Girl
Mabel Miyasaki is known around Coors Field as "G-ma." At 87, she spends her birthday at Spring Training each year, and is a presence in the stands at Coors Field for as many games a year as she can make. The Longmont, Colo., resident has even introduced young players to the joys of sushi.

Her faith and enthusiasm for the Rockies is surpassed only by her love of life.

Miyasaki, you see, went in for a checkup, and a biopsy revealed that she had breast cancer. Doctors performed a radical mastectomy, followed by a pins-and-needles five-day wait as a lab had to determine rather the cancer had spread. Luckily it had not.

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That was 38 years ago.

For all that time, "G-ma" Miyasaki has been encouraging women to perform regular self exams. When she shows up at Coors Field, where she is often right by the field during batting practice, she wears pink, purple or some combination to celebrate breast cancer awareness or the Rockies.

"G-ma" has been as close to an official bat girl for the Rockies throughout their existence. All the Rockies did was formalize it by naming her their 2012 Honorary Bat Girl as part of Major League Baseball's Mother's Day program to bring breast cancer awareness. The Rockies are on the road this Sunday, and will honor Miyasaki on an alternate occasion.

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Miyasaki still works at a McDonald's four days a week, and when not working, she faithfully follows the Rockies either in person or on television.

Here's how the Rockies described her in their statement:

"'G-ma' is a strong and beautiful woman who makes a lasting impact on everyone she meets. She didn't let cancer beat her. In fact, she uses it as her badge of courage when supporting others fighting the deadly disease, giving them the faith and encouragement that they, too, can win the battle. 'G-ma' is known for being that 'crazy old Japanese lady' who bleeds Rockies baseball and spreads her contagious smile and love for life."

Honorary Bat Girls will take part in pregame activities, be honored during an on-field ceremony, and will receive pink MLB merchandise and two tickets to the game. For clubs that are away on Mother's Day, another home game in May will be selected to recognize their Honorary Bat Girl.

Nine-time Grammy award winner Bonnie Raitt, who lost her brother and close friends to cancer, recorded a special video at the MLB Fan Cave to lend her support to the Honorary Bat Girl initiative and the ongoing fight to eradicate the disease. The video, will run online and in-stadium.

Also on Mother's Day, hundreds of MLB players are expected to use pink bats by Louisville Slugger, the official bat of Major League Baseball, stamped with the MLB breast cancer awareness logo. To further demonstrate their support for the breast cancer cause, players and on-field personnel will wear the symbolic pink ribbon on their uniforms along with pink wrist bands. Commemorative dugout lineup cards also will be pink.

The Guest Judging Panel who helped select the 30 winners included Joe Blanton of the Phillies, whose mom is a breast cancer survivor; Jason Heyward of the Braves, whose aunt passed away from lung cancer; Howie Kendrick of the Angels, whose best friend's mom is a breast cancer survivor; and Barry Zito of the Giants, whose mom was affected by cancer. Also on the Guest Panel was MLB Network host Chris Rose, who has several close friends who have been affected by the disease; international soccer star Mia Hamm, supporter of the Honorary Bat Girl Initiative with former player and current ESPN analyst Nomar Garciaparra, whose grandmother passed away from breast cancer; and actor James Denton of Desperate Housewives, who lost his mother to breast cancer.

The Honorary Bat Girl Contest was introduced in 2009 to raise additional awareness and support for the annual Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer initiative celebrated on Mother's Day. In 2006, Major League Baseball created the "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" program. Since its beginnings, MLB has continued to grow the program throughout the League and with all 30 clubs to honor those affected by the disease. Along with MLB licensed partners and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, MLB raises awareness about the breast cancer cause. Game-used Louisville Slugger pink bats from Mother's Day games that have been authenticated by MLB will be auctioned exclusively on MLB.com to benefit cancer research. To learn more about Major League Baseball's charitable initiatives visit MLBCommunity.org.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. Brittany Ghiroli contributed. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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