4 Mom: ASU outfielder playing for mother fighting Alzheimer's

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ASU sophmore Hunter Bishop plays on despite his mother's battle with Alzheimer's. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) ASU sophmore Hunter Bishop plays on despite his mother's battle with Alzheimer's. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Braden and Hunter Bishop are hoping their baseball careers help bring an end to Alzheimer's. (Source: Instagram @hbishop24) Braden and Hunter Bishop are hoping their baseball careers help bring an end to Alzheimer's. (Source: Instagram @hbishop24)

Baseball is Hunter Bishop’s refuge. 

“The best part about coming to the park every day is just being with the guys. I really enjoy coming to the field every day and just being with my buddies,” said the Sun Devils sophomore outfielder. “It’s a good little release with what I’m going through. When I put on the uniform, my mind goes at ease. It’s kind of my release from everything.”

Bishop is playing with a heavy heart. His mother Suzy is battling early onset Alzheimer's.

“I’ll call her once a day, we’ll facetime,” said Bishop. “To get to see her face is really nice. She definitely still knows who I am but it’s getting worse every day,” said Bishop, just two days after hitting a home run against UCLA.  “She was pretty excited. A big smile lit up on her face. She still understands that." 

Suzy was also an athlete. She ran for UCLA and went on to be a TV movie producer. She was also the one who taught Hunter how to hit.

“She was the biggest part of my baseball career. My dad was always at work. She would always take us to the park and throw up the wiffle ball,” said Bishop, who’s brother Braden is five years older. 

“My brother would always hit wiffle balls back and smoke her. She would obviously want me to do same thing but I could never do it because I was so small”

Hunter grew to be 6 feet, 5 inches tall and is coming off a Pac 12 Honorable Mention freshman year. Braden started the 2018 season in double A with the Seattle Mariners. Both of the Bishops play on despite the pain of their mother’s struggle.

“I remember she sat me down. And she told me she had Alzheimer's. I had no idea what that was, I think I was 13 or 14,” said Hunter Bishop. “She was not even fazed. It kind of describes the kind of lady she was. My brother wanted to come home. As she got older she got worse and worse. It’s tough. Finding out she had Alzheimers and what it’s like five years later. It’s probably the worst experience of my life so far. Seeing somebody I love so much, the most important person in my life going through what shes going through. There’s no excuse for anything I’m going through. She’s my motivation.”

Braden Bishop donated money to Alzheimer's causes for every hit. He started the 4 Mom Foundation while playing at the University of Washington. Braden joined AZ Family for an interview prior to an early season with the Arkansas Travelers.

“When my mom was diagnosed I didn’t know what Alzheimer's was. I thought it was something that happened later in life. I didn’t even know there was no cure,” said Braden Bishop, now in his 4th season in the professional baseball. 

“As both of our platforms have grown so has 4Mom. I want to get to a certain point where I can educate people. Not only what it is but how it affects families. How we can teach caregivers how to care give. Hopefully in the process we raise a ton of money and hopefully one day find a cure for it.”

Braden and Hunter Bishop typically write the words “4 Mom” on their arm before games. They also wear Revolution Band bracelets that are for sale on the 4 Mom site, to raise funds for those dealing with the disease. Their cause has gone all the way to the Big Leagues. The Seattle Mariners made “4 Mom” t-shirts during the spring.

“Coolest experience had in journey so far,” said Braden.  “To see a group of guys who didn’t have to do that.  It was unreal experience.”

Suzy’s struggle has been emotional. She spoke about the diagnosis early on and posted the video to YouTube. The journey has been tough on Braden and Hunter but it has also brought them closer together.

“My brother and I always butted heads.  My mom got diagnosed and since then been best friends.  I could talk to him about anything in the world and he’ll always be there for me.  He’s really helped me with everything I’ve been through, especially baseball,” said Hunter. “And with my mom, he’s been that guiding hand that I needed because I’m sort of lost on what to do without a mom.”

“I think he should use me more than he does and get that ego out the way,” joked Braden. “We have a very close relationship. It’s nice that we’re both playing at a high level.”

It’s one day, one game and one pitch at a time for the Bishops. They know that each one provides another moment for their mom.

“For me, I get to come out here and smile and laugh,” said Hunter Bishop.  “She’s my motivation.”

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