Braden Bishop is on the doorstep of the big leagues — but if you ask him, all he’ll talk about is how he’s in the fight of his life.
The Seattle Mariners outfield prospect, who enjoyed a breakout year on the field in 2017 en route to being named Baseball Census’ Minor League Player of the Year, is finding his public profile has risen quickly among Mariners fans thanks to his surge through their minor league system. It’s a welcome surge, but as many are now learning about Bishop, it’s a surge that allows him to focus on family more so than bask in his ample on-field achievements.
For several years now, Braden’s mother has battled early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease, and the prospect has balanced increased family responsibilities to care for her with his push towards the big leagues. A few years ago, he created 4MOM, a charity foundation in partnership with Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles, to raise awareness of the disease and the fight for a cure. The foundation has grown every offseason, and now, among other things, it works to raise funds for research.
This weekend, Bishop is making a major public push in that fundraising effort: he’s holding a charity auction of game-used cleats, bats, and other baseball gear from a bevy of prospects and big leaguers, all in benefit of Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles and the fight for a cure.
“Before my mom got sick, I always knew I wanted to do something good, whatever it was,” Bishop told Baseball Census earlier this week. “And I found things to get involved with, but I didn’t have a personal connection. I almost had to ask myself, ‘is this right? Like, I’m helping, but does it look like I’m forcing this?’”
Once his mom was diagnosed, that all changed — and Braden found himself thrown into the deep end, fighting for her life in a way far more personal than he’d ever expected.
“Once I really went into fighting Alzheimer’s, a lot of teammates have come forward,” he said. “Guys who have played with me have seen the struggle I’ve been through with my mom being sick and me being thousands of miles away. Other guys have a parent or a grandparent who is going through the same thing. Now, I’ve seen [4MOM] build, and now I have guys who want to come in and join, because Alzheimer’s has affected them, or they are looking for a cause that they want to support.”
This weekend, that has Mariners prospect Nick Neidert donating game-worn cleats to Bishop for the auction. Minnesota Twins prospect Brent Rooker shared cleats and a game-used bat. Big league outfielder Mitch Haniger and speedy Seattle top prospect Ian Miller both shared bats for the charity auction, as well.
New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi signed a 4MOM shirt for the auction. From the Pacific Northwest, the Seattle Mariners sent a package that includes game-used gear from nine different big leaguers. And Braden Bishop himself is auctioning off custom cleats and a custom 4MOM bat, all to benefit Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles.
Bishop, who first got the idea for an auction when he thought about raffling off some old broken bats, is floored that so many players have already jumped in to help him this weekend.
“I’m grateful to have a group of people who want to support me, and my family, and the greater cause,” he said. “That’s how it grows. It’s not me. It’s the people around me who make it grow. My goal from day one was to raise awareness, and we’ve been doing that. And now, to be able to raise funding for research to find a cure, and to help caregivers? It’s been inspiring to see how many people have helped support this cause.”
Of course, the biggest help to the cause will be Braden Bishop himself; off to the prestigious Arizona Fall League in a couple days, after having successfully pushed through Double-A by the end of the summer, Bishop will be in the conversation for a big league job very soon. And with a big league job comes big league attention, and big league connections — things that willl help continue to raise the profile of 4MOM, and of Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles, and of the fight to cure the disease. To say Braden Bishop is playing for something greater than himself right now is maybe an understatement.
“I’m just trying to use the platform I have to grow this thing,” Bishop said, acknowledging he’s seen a surge in awareness already as he moved up minor league levels over the last two years. “Hopefully one day I make it to the big leagues, and I’ll be hosting a charity event at Safeco Field or something. The platform can raise the stage, and hopefully one day I’ll be there and the profile on this disease will be even greater. I’m praying for it and I’m encouraged. It could get there.”
Take a look at Bishop’s on-field performance alone and, yeah, it sure could get there. But maybe it’s never really been about his on-field performance at all; baseball is fun, and important, but it’s really just a nice byproduct of the far better things that come from fighting ‘4MOM.’
“I come from a long line of civil servants,” Bishop said when asked why there’s such a push to do good here. “My grandpa was a cop. I’ve had uncles in the military, family members who are firefighters, my dad was a cop. Or family has always been big on serving others before ourselves, and it’s how I was before this cause. I want to make sure other people are taken care of before myself. That’s how I was raised, that’s how I want to be, and ultimately, that’s how I want to be remembered.”
He’s off to a good start.
‘4MOM’ Auction Links — Bids are open through Monday evening
To bid on any of these items through eBay, simply click on the link for each one provided and make your bid on their site. The auction ends Monday evening, October 9th, just after 5:00 pm Pacific Time.
Full Seattle Mariners package — CLICK HERE — Package includes bats, cleats, hats, and custom socks. Assortment of signed items from pitcher Andrew Moore, pitcher Edwin Diaz, pitcher James Paxton, pitcher Nick Vincent, pitcher Andrew Albers, pitcher Emilio Pagan, catcher Mike Zunino, third baseman Kyle Seager, and former outfielder Leonys Martin.