Drugmaker Bayer AG to donate $10 to cancer research for every strikeout

NEW YORK -- Major league pitchers will soon have added incentive to strike out batters.

Drugmaker Bayer AG will announce plans Wednesday to donate $10 to prostate cancer research for every strikeout during the regular season this year.

Major League Baseball estimates the four-year partnership could add up to a little more than $300,000 per year. There were 32,189 strikeouts during the regular season in 2007, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Bayer, based in Leverkusen, Germany, will give an additional $1 million to the Prostate Cancer Foundation if a pitcher sets a new record by striking out 21 batters in a game.

Bayer's One-A-Day vitamins for men are marketed as a way to maintain prostate health.

The deal marks the brand's first partnership with a sports organization and is "a great way to reach men for the One-A-Day products," said Jay Kolpon, vice president of marketing for Bayer Healthcare Consumer Health.

The One-A-Day brand is among Bayer's top-selling consumer health products, with sales growing an average of 15 percent annually for the past several years, Kolpon said.

Bayer spends about $40 million a year on media advertising for One-A-Day products.

Chicago White Sox designated hitter Jim Thome, whose family has a history prostate cancer, will be the spokesman for the campaign. The partnership will be featured in MLB-produced TV vignettes during each national broadcast of a game, Kolpon said.

MLB representatives did not immediately return calls for comment.

More than 2 million American men have prostate cancer, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation. More than 186,000 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with the disease this year, and more than 28,000 men will die from it, the foundation says.

Prostate cancer surgery caused Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre to miss the first 37 games of the 1999 season, when he was leading the New York Yankees.

Bayer, famed for inventing aspirin, said last month its profit narrowed in the final three months of 2007. The company's products include the painkiller Aleve and flea and tick medicine for animals, Advantage.