Pirates embrace women's baseball clinic; $50,000 raised for charity, research
Clint Hurdle learned that his mother had breast cancer on Valentine's Day in 1991.
It was the first time the Pirates manager ever saw his father cry. The reality that he could lose his mother, and his father could lose his wife, was a feeling he remembers clearly even today.
Fortunately for the Hurdle family, the story had a happy ending. His mother went through 25 radiation treatments and is a survivor, a fact he happily shared with the 300 women taking part in the third annual Pitch for Hope women's baseball clinic, benefitting the Pittsburgh-based A Glimmer of Hope foundation, on Sunday morning at PNC Park.
“It's always good to be a part of any fundraising opportunity, especially cancer awareness because it touches everybody,” Hurdle said. “Everybody knows somebody and it can be very personal. In my family, it was personal. So to come out here for a couple of hours ... there are a couple ladies who are going through treatments right now who are out here today or they're representing someone else, so there's a lot of significance.”
Christine Adamek was only 27 when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Prior to the diagnosis, Adamek said, she was the picture of health — working out, eating right, doing yoga, living a relatively stress-free life. She began a long process of chemotherapy, surgery, radiation and a clinical trial.
That was three years ago.
“It's like getting smacked in the face with a shovel,” said Adamek of Ohio Township. “You wake up and deal with it. Now I'm dealing with focusing on all the things I went through and trying to get back to a normal life.”
Adamek said the only sport she follows is baseball, and she's participated in all three Pitch for Hope clinics at PNC Park. Sunday was particularly emotional, she said, because she's in such a different place in her life.
It also was a day to enjoy with friends on the field at PNC Park, getting tips on baseball fundamentals from Pirates coaches Euclides Rojas, Dave Jauss, Jeff Banister, Jay Bell and Rick Sofield, in addition to Hurdle. Team president Frank Coonelly also participated, with appearances by A.J. Burnett, Michael McKenry, Gerrit Cole and Jeff Locke.
“You could have a one-on-one conversation with Clint Hurdle,” Adamek said. “They're so laid back and such cool guys.”
Sunday's event, which was open to women and girls ages 14 and older, sold out and raised more than $50,000 for Glimmer of Hope. The foundation plans to use the money to help fund cutting-edge ultrasound equipment at the Allegheny General Hospital Breast Care Center.
“It isn't about baseball, even though that's what they're doing right now today,” Glimmer of Hope founder Diana Napper said. “It's about Clint Hurdle walking on the field and saying my mother's alive 20 years later. That's what it is. It's a tremendous amount of hope and energy they give to the survivors that are here.”