Some undo and redo their batting gloves, ensuring up to the last moment that nothing is loose. Some stress themselves one last time about a scouting report, going over which pitch in which zone they should be looking for. Others just try to clear their mind before they step up to bat.
Hunter Bishop reminds himself that whatever is about to happen will not change his life significantly for the better or worse. There are so many things more important than whether he gets a hit. Baseball is a sport, is a living, is a game, but it is not a life.
“When I walk to the plate, I’ll always be like, ‘Let’s go, Mom.’ That’s what I say to myself. She’s always with me,” the Giants’ highly ranked outfield prospect said over the phone recently. “It helps me realize that no matter what happens in this at-bat, it really doesn’t matter. It just puts me in a good mood and perspective.”
If he needs any help reminding himself, he just has to look at what he’s holding.
Bishop has been using a cherry red bat to honor his mother, Suzy Bishop, who died at 59 years old in October 2019 after a five-year battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. After her diagnosis in 2014, Hunter’s brother, Braden, now a Mariners outfielder, launched a crusade that became the 4MOM Charity to fight a cruel disease that has no cure. The charity unites “professional athletes, coaches, patients, caregivers and our community in the fight for the world’s first survivor of Alzheimer’s, by advancing awareness, supporting caregivers and funding research.”
Hunter Bishop contributes to the cause, but also wants to find his own ways to honor a mother who was a UCLA track star and film producer, and whose diagnosis occurred while Hunter was at Serra High School. A few years ago, Braden gave Hunter a purple bat that he would use in batting practice — it’s the official color for the awareness of and the battle against Alzheimer’s — but purple is not among the colors allowed in the CBA for MLB hitters to use.
Bishop did some research. He favors Victus and Marucci bats, which both make the brighter red hue, which he brought with him each time he stepped up in the Cactus League. For about a year or so, it’s been his choice.
“Now I forever use that cherry red bat, and I think that’s the closest to purple I can get,” he said.
For now at least. If and when he makes it to the majors, he may have a different bat for Players’ Weekend.
Bishop is at the alternate site in Sacramento, which began scrimmages this week with the A’s alternate site. As a first-round pick out of Arizona State in 2019, there’s a lot of development left for an outfielder who has both prolific power and impressive speed, tools that have the Giants dreaming about his potential. He went 2-for-9 in the Cactus League and missed some time with an ankle injury that flared up after he stepped on a base awkwardly.
The Giants want their players to be even-keeled, to avoid getting too down on themselves during struggles. That likely won’t be a problem for Bishop.
“There’s going to be a lot of bad at-bats and bad games, and I’d be lying if I said sometimes I don’t get frustrated or upset,” the 22-year-old said. “But that’s what I’m trying to accomplish here [with the bat] — realizing it’s a game, and there’s a lot more to life than just baseball.”