By Marti Gacioch
Scott Sibley’s gift to his mother, Sandy, took on home-run status after he entered her in a contest to become an Honorary Padres Bat Girl on Mother’s Day.
Scott entered his mother Sandy, an 11-year breast cancer survivor and first-grade teacher at Bird Rock Elementary School, in an online contest offered by the Major League Baseball website, in connection with the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Major League Baseball started the contest in 2009 to support fans dealing with breast cancer while “going to bat” to fight the disease. Contest prizewinners throughout the United States (30 total) serve as Honorary Bat Girls for Mother’s Day at the Major League parks.
To compete, Scott submitted a heartfelt essay recounting his devastating reaction to the news that his mother, a longtime Padre’s fan, had breast cancer, when he was a high school junior.
“Being her only child, while it may not have always been appreciated at the time, I was lucky enough to always have her complete devotion, attention and love … countless trips to Padre games … always going above and beyond,” Scott wrote as he shared her diagnosis, successful double mastectomy, recovery, and their mutual love of the Padres.
Scott concluded with, “Getting the chance to be an Honorary Bat Girl would be the best Mother's Day gift this mother, teacher, and Padres fan could receive!”
“His essay still brings tears to my eyes,” Sandy said. “I won out over 15 others for the Padres Bat Girl, but it wasn’t just the popular vote; it had a lot to do with the essay.”
The guest judging panel included Barry Zito of the San Francisco Giants, Joe Blanton of the Philadelphia Phillies, Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves, and Howie Kendrick of the Los Angeles Angels at Anaheim.
“Everyone on the panel had either lost someone to cancer or knew someone who was a survivor,” Sandy said.
As an honorary Bat Girl, Sandy didn’t actually carry any bats, but the Padres invited her, Scott, and a friend onto the field to watch batting practice.
Shortly afterward, the team awarded Sandy with an official white Padres jersey sporting the words “Bat Girl” in pink letters and a pink ribbon on the back. Next, she met Padres Manager, Bud Black, and then the announcer read Scott’s letter before introducing Sandy to the crowd. She waved before receiving a certificate signed by Bud Selig, the Commissioner of Baseball, stating that she was named an Honorary Bat Girl for 2012.
‘The whole stadium learned that I had a double mastectomy and that I’m 11 years cancer-free,” Sandy said. “It was wonderful. Then six of us were brought up to the owner’s box to watch the game and have food; I felt like a queen and was overjoyed that my son did this.”
The fun continues for Sandy, whose story has been featured on Fox TV stations. Soon she’ll receive a pink bat from the Padres inscribed “2012 Honorary Bat Girl, Sandy Sibley” — a perfect souvenir for a grand slam Mother’s Day.