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From Pink Bats to Perfect Games: ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian’s Recalls Mother’s Day Magic Moments in MLB

Kurkjian seemingly has a million Mother's Day-related baseball memories, including some involving his mom, Joy. He shares a few here before highlighting them on Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN

(L-R) Matt Kurkjian; Joy Kurkjian; Tim Kurkjian (Photo courtesy of Tim Kurkjian/ESPN)

Every year on Mother’s Day, Major League Baseball players celebrate their moms in a variety of ways. Some players send video tributes to their moms, others use pink bats at the plate to show their love and support.

ESPN MLB analyst Tim Kurkjian provided insight into some of the greatest moments that have happened on Mother’s Day in baseball, along with a special story about the impact his own mother has made on his life.

What are some of your personal highlights of Mother’s Day in baseball?
Mother’s Day has included so many great moments.

  • In 1967, Mickey Mantle hit his 500th home run on Mother’s Day.
  • In 2012, Joey Votto hit three homers, including one walk-off grand slam.
  • In 2006, in the first year in which pink bats were used, the Milwaukee Brewers Bill Hall engraved on his bat the name of his mom, Nettie, who had driven 10 hours to watch him play. And, of course, he hit a walk-off homer.
  • In 2007, Fred Lewis hit for the cycle.
  • Also in 2007, the Boston Red Sox overcame a 5-0 deficit in the ninth to beat the Baltimore Orioles in the Mother’s Day Miracle.
  • In 2010, Oakland A’s pitcher Dallas Braden lost his mom to cancer when he was in high school. He was cared for by his grandmother, Peggy, who watched him pitch on Mother’s Day: He threw a perfect game.

What is your favorite Mother’s Day story?
My favorite Mother’s Day story is of former major league infielder Casey Candaele, whose mom, Helen, played in the Women’s Professional Baseball League, which inspired the movie, “In A League Of Their Own.”

Tim Kurkjian reports from the set of Baseball Tonight. (Allen Kee/ESPN Images)

Casey said, with a laugh, that Helen was the only mother in the history of the father-son-mother-daughter softball games to be barred because she was too good.

I once asked Casey how good his mother was, and he said, with a smile, “She had a better swing than I did.”

When Casey was playing for the Montreal Expos, Helen picked up one of his bats and said, “This bat is too light. You need to swing something heavier.”

How did your mother impact your life in baseball?
My mom, the aptly named Joy, was the greatest mom and grandmother ever. She was a classic mom from the 1960s and 1970s; she drove my brothers and me from every game we ever played, and she never missed a game that we played in high school, baseball or basketball.

She was from England, so he grew up playing cricket, not baseball. But she learned to love baseball, living in a house with three boys and a husband who loved the game as much as anyone I’ve ever met. My mom loved my dad more than anything, but in her mid-50s, she got tired of hearing what a great athlete he was.

“I can beat you in a race right now,” she said.

They went to the other end of the court across from our house. And she dusted my dad in a 60-yard race.

Hear more of Kurkjian’s favorite Mother’s Day stories on Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown, May 12, at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN prior to Sunday Night Baseball at 7 p.m.

NOTE: To commemorate his mother’s 96th birthday in March 2020, Kurkjian told this funny baseball story in which she played a key role.

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