Predictably, Grant Muncrief and Preston Springer heard some light-hearted grumbling about pink jerseys.
They won't worry about the look when they put on the uniforms for tonight's game. They are intimately connected to the cause supported by Wichita State's Home Run for the Cure game against Oral Roberts at Eck Stadium.
Both of their mothers are cancer-free after battles with breast cancer in recent years. This is a fundraiser that means something to them.
"It's a tight-knit community, in a way a sorority, of women, that have had to go through the same thing and they can lean on each other," Muncrief said. "There's a lot of women that haven't been as lucky as both of our moms. It's a sad deal, but I'm glad they're doing something like this. We're two cases of having lucky moms, moms who were able to pull through."
Muncrief, a sophomore pitcher, and Springer, a junior designated hitter, will tell their stories on video clips on the scoreboard. The Shockers will wear pink jerseys and the flying W on their hats is pink. The jerseys will be auctioned off during the game and $5 tickets are available for people who wear pink.
"It's a cool deal that they do this in baseball," Muncrief said. "Especially since, for a lot of guys, their moms are so involved in their baseball careers. You get shelled, or maybe you go O-fer one day, and it seems like everyone is glaring at you and it seems like you can't ever do anything right. It's nice to know your moms are there. You don't take that for granted after they go through something like this."
Their stories are similar, both with happy endings.
Gail Muncrief was diagnosed in 2007, her son's freshman year at WSU. Jan Springer was diagnosed in 2008, just as her son finished the first semester of his sophomore year at Odessa (Texas) College.
Gail Muncrief had radiation treatment, but managed to avoid chemotherapy. Jan Springer was forced to undergo that treatment.
"That was tough, having to watch her lose her hair," Preston Springer said. "It makes you keep things in perspective. I knew every day was a struggle for her. So when I had a bad day at the ballpark, it underlines what she had to go through."
In both cases, the sons say early detection helped immensely.
"They were real positive from the get-go that it was going to be treatable because they caught it early, because she did her annual mammograms," Grant Muncrief said. "I never really felt scared about it, because I felt like they were real confident they were going to be able to treat it."
Both player say they grew up close to their mothers. Going through the fight with cancer strengthened that bond. Phone calls or visits became more frequent and more important.
"That whole process really brought us together more," Preston Springer said. "I made a lot of trips to come home, as much as I could. She really battled it."
Cooper, Kelley honored — Sophomore pitcher Jordan Cooper is one of the Louisville Slugger national players of the week. Cooper, from Berryton, struck out a career-high 14 in Friday's 3-0 win over Missouri State. Cooper stretch his streak of scoreless innings to 27 1/3 with the complete-game victory. He allowed six hits and didn't walk a batter. Cooper is 8-2 with a 1.61 ERA.
Junior Tim Kelley was named Missouri Valley Conference pitcher of the week for his role in Saturday's 8-0 win over MSU. He struck out 10 and gave up two hits, allowing one runner to reach scoring position.