Morton Plant Mease surgeon Dr. Peter Blumencranz throws out the ceremonial first pitch at the Clearwater Threshers’ 12th annual Pitch for Pink night July 14.
CLEARWATER – Not even the threat of inclement weather could prevent the Clearwater Threshers 12th annual Pitch for Pink game from being a success.
Despite heavy showers that rolled over Spectrum Field just prior to game time on Friday, July 14, the skies cleared in time for the traditional pregame walk around the field, with dozens of breast cancer survivors and their supporters, as well as numerous doctors and support staff from Morton Plant Mease, making the joyous trek from the right field stands all the way around the outfield and back to home plate.
While event organizers were fretting about the weather affecting the turnout, as it turned out a little rain wasn’t about to keep some of the strongest people you’ll ever meet from enjoying their moment in the sun.
“I threw out the first pitch on the very first Pitch for Pink night, and I’ve been coming back ever since,” a wheelchair bound Libby Rotkis from Clearwater said. “I love Dr. Blumencranz. He saved my life!”
Rotkis was referring to Dr. Peter Blumencranz, a surgeon with 30 years’ experience who expressed his appreciation for the Threshers parent club while he greeted the survivors as they arrived at the third base dugout.
“Having the Phillies as our local home team supporting our program is a nice thing to do,” he said. “The money raised tonight goes to help with patients’ care and support and provides direct support to our program. This is the 12th annual Pitch for Pink and it is growing every year, and we hope it continues to go on so we can provide great care in the coming years. I’ve been doing this for 30 years now and seeing the reactions never gets old.”
Indeed, the images from the field were enough to melt even the hardest hearts.
From Rotkis getting out of her wheelchair to hug Dr. Blumencranz to the other survivors laughing and crying tears of joy as they completed the Survivor Walk, there was no shortage of emotion on display.
As she completed the lap, Gina Baker hugged her granddaughter, 16-month-old Viviana Turner, who was holding a baseball given to her by one of the Threshers players.
When asked what made her brave the elements to participate in the Pitch for Pink night, Baker had a simple, succinct answer.