It's baseball season! This is one of my favorite times of the year since I am a rabid fan of the game. Last year, I fought serious discrimination when I chose to coach a boys' Little League Baseball team to experience a hobby (we both love) with my son. I was an outstanding coach, but I was undermined from the start when I was given a roster of the youngest, most inexperienced players. The one little girl who signed up and paid her $100 dollars to play was so intimidated by the gender bias she quit baseball all together and lost her money. This was followed by the men who were my assistants holding runners at third base to throw the games or laying against the outfield fence to avoid helping the fielders. They made demeaning remarks to the boys about how they were "playing like girls" and would not support my efforts to discipline the kids when they showed me disrespect. I was in no way trying to be a man or to detract from what these fathers were teaching their sons about baseball. However, the lesson I learned was that many men feel threatened in their manhood by a woman who can perform a traditionally male skill better than they can. The result is that they will use any means necessary to force out the threat. I hope that through my emotional strength, I taught my boys a lesson that means much more than the game, that women deserve respect for who they are.
Many of the greatest professional baseball players of all time were women. However, most of us have never heard of them because of the male agenda to keep them quiet. I proudly give you some of their names. Helene Britton-owned the St. Louis Cardinals from 1911-16. Lizzie Murphy was the first person to play for both the American League and the National League in all-star games. Sophie Kurys holds the record for the most stolen bases (1946). Jackie Mitchell struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig only to learn her contract was immediately cancelled. Did you know "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" was written about a female baseball player's love for the game? Many lyrics have been deleted from the song we now sing.
At the end of the season, I bought each boy a trophy and publicly acknowledged his unique ability as a player. To my knowledge, none of the male-led teams received anything unless they won the tournament. My most special moment came when a father of one of my players told me how wonderful it was that I made his son feel so special. That, in turn, helped me know that I did the right thing by toughing out the season and there were men out there who appreciated me just as I am. That's what it takes to be on the same team.