I Want to Be a Baseball Player

As a young girl growing up in New York during the early to mid-1970s, I was obsessed with baseball. If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say the first female baseball player in the major leagues. I was a tremendous New York Mets fan. I never would miss a Mets game on NY’s Channel 9 (WOR). I did not just watch the games; I kept the scorebook, figured the players stats, watched the postgame show, and sorted and flipped my TOPPS baseball cards. Every now and then my Dad would take me to a Mets game at Shea Stadium, and if I were really lucky I would get to see a doubleheader.

In 1974, at the age of nine, I joined a Little League softball team. Little League softball was founded in 1974, and I played on one of the first teams ever at West Shore Little League on Staten Island. We had practice a few times a week on the concrete schoolyards, and played a game or two per week. Unlike today, there were no travel teams, but we did have Interleague All-Star games. I came to find I was pretty good, and I wanted to play all the time. I would showoff to the boys on my street and try and get in on all of the neighborhood games. They were reluctant to let me play, and I remember one of the first times with them one of my spastic throws broke a car window (sorry Mr. Berlin!). I still played with the neighborhood boys but we switched to a pink rubber ball.

At that age, I felt like I was better than a lot of the boys! I still have the Wilson softball glove I played with when I was nine. For my 13th birthday, I asked for and received a Johnny Bench Batter Up, which was a cylindrical cement base with a string attached to a pole with a baseball. You would twist the ball on the rope around and take batting practice on it. It was certainly not your traditional 13 year-old girl’s birthday present.

Although I played softball throughout high school, and even played on some co-ed softball teams into my twenties, my dreams of becoming the first woman baseball player faded in my teen years. I suffered a number of injuries, including lost teeth from an accidental blow to the mouth from a baseball bat and many clumsy falls due to a bad knee. However, my passion for playing went away as I discovered other interests. I still love baseball and sports in general. Girls today have great opportunities to play a wide variety of sports that were just opening up to me when I was younger. I am constantly in awe of female athletes who have realized their passion with the hard work and commitment they put into their sport, especially those juggling work, education, and families at the same time. Thinking back on my young days of softball had me searching our catalog for materials on women’s softball/baseball and women athletes in general. Here is what I found; please read and enjoy!
Making; Throw; Hardball
Making My Pitch: A Woman's Baseball Odyssey by Ila Jane Borders
Just published in April 2017, Making my Pitch tells the story of Ila Jane Borders, the first woman awarded a baseball scholarship, and the first to pitch and win a complete men's collegiate game. In 1997, Borders went on to become the first woman to play men’s integrated professional baseball doing so in the Independent Northern League.

Throw Like a Girl by Jennie Finch
Jennie Finch, a female softball pitcher and first baseman, is a former collegiate All-American with the Arizona Wildcats and played professionally for the Chicago Bandits. Finch was a member of the USA national softball team leading the team to gold in 2004, and silver in 2008.

When Women Played Hardball by Susan E. Johnson
Chronicles the time period from 1943-1954 when more than 500 women rocked the baseball fields in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.
Fast; Game ; Strong
Fastpitch: The Untold History of Softball and the Women Who Made the Game by Erica Westly
Told from the perspective of softball legends Bertha Tickey and Joan Joyce. Fun fact: In exhibition play Joyce struck out Ted Williams in 1961 and Hank Aaron in 1978!

Game Face: What Does a Woman Athlete Look Like by Jane Gottesman
Amazing photos and facts featuring a variety of female athletes. Read about Katherine Switzer, who entered the then men-only Boston Marathon in 1967. Switzer finished the race despite attempts by race organizers to physically push her off the course. Fifty years later in April 2017, Switzer ran the Boston Marathon at the age of 70 wearing the same bib number an official tried to rip off her clothing in the 1967 race. Check out Mutton Busting on page 116. Turn to page 22 to read the story of Donna Lopiano who wanted to play little league baseball in the 1950s. Due to rules Lopiano could not play even though she was drafted number 1 in the tryouts.

Strong is the New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves by Kate T. Parker
Over 175 photographs portraying the strength and confidence of the girls featured.
“Strong Is the New Pretty is the definition of girl power.”—Buzzfeed
Stolen; Game; Qualifying
Stolen Bases: Why American Girls Don't Play Baseball by Jennifer Ring
“An extraordinary account of the rejection of female players from baseball. . . . [Ring] searches for ways to reclaim baseball’s nickname, 'the people’s game,' and encourage females who want to play a game they are passionate about. Highly recommended.”—Choice

A Game of Their Own: Voices of Contemporary Women in Baseball by Jennifer Ring
Another women’s baseball title in our catalog by author Jennifer Ring. Ring has been at the University of Nevada, Reno since 1996 when she was appointed director of Women's Studies and professor of political science. She also has served as the chair of the University Athletics Committee. A Game of Their Own was named one of the top three baseball books of 2015 by the Christian Science Monitor and The Daily Beast. Her research on women and baseball has been archived in the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library in Cooperstown.

Qualifying Times by Jamie Shultz
"Schultz has written an engaging and readable book detailing the points of change that she hopes will call into question the traditional 'eras' of sports history. Should be considered by all sports fans."—Library Journal
Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone, the First Woman to Play Professional Baseball in the Negro League by Martha Ackmann
Tells the story of Toni Stone who faced much adversity and became the first of three women to play professional baseball in the Negro League.

Women in Baseball: The Forgotten History by Gai Ingham Berlage
Women in Baseball offers the details of this compelling, largely overlooked aspect of baseball history, introducing the reader to a whole new cast of little-known stars on men's teams: Lizzie Arlington, a pitcher in 1898; Alta Weiss, a pitcher for 15 years in the early 20th century; Lizzie Murphy, who played first base for the American All-Stars against the Boston Red Sox; Jackie Mitchell, who became a media sensation in 1931 when she struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. (taken from book jacket).

A League of Their Own (DVD or Blu-ray)
No discussion on women’s baseball would be complete without mentioning the 1992 movie A League of Their Own. A League of Their Own is a fictionalized account of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). In 2012, A League of Their Own was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

West Shore Little League Team Picture circa 1976-77. I am standing 2nd from left around 11 years old. (From author’s Facebook page).

—Lisa Auger


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