OAKLAND -- It's strange to imagine today, but 15 years ago there was no awareness or recognition of the perils of breast cancer around Major League Baseball.
It wasn't until Kathy Crowley went to her husband, A's president Michael Crowley, that the ball got rolling. Kathy Crowley brought the issue to light after her friend, Kaki Saxon Moyce, 61, was diagnosed with the disease, and felt compelled to try to make a difference.
So the A's in 1999 started Breast Cancer Awareness Day -- a daylong celebration honoring those who have battled breast cancer -- which raises funds to support research, education, advocacy and free services for cancer patients and their families throughout the Bay Area.
"It's hard to look back 15 years, but it was unheard of to take on a women's issue in a male sport, and now you can't even remember when it didn't happen," Kathy Crowley said. "It's so common. It's become a cause no one would think of not supporting."
More than 350 Bay Area breast cancer survivors formed a symbolic human ribbon on the field Sunday before the A's series finale against the Rays. The tribute also included the release of white doves as a symbol of hope. The A's donated $5,000 as a part of "A Gift of Faith" grant to a local charity in memory of longtime KTVU Channel 2 reporter, the late Faith Fancher.
The A's also raised $61,395 on Sunday with the proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society and Cancer Prevention Institute of California. Since the inaugural event in 1999, the A's and their partners have raised more than $1.3 million for breast cancer education and research.
"The Commissioner of Baseball always talks about baseball being a social institution and having an obligation to the areas where we work, play and have our business," Mike Crowley said. "It's important. Today, like every year, it's emotional. Just to see a smile on some of these people's faces that are battling this disease makes it all worth while."
Jeff Kirshman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.