Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dirt in the Skirt!: Lamenting the lack of women in the game

I have been sick with a nasty stomach bug for the past two days. The fact that my apartment is a brick oven and my room is the only one with AC has pretty much confined me to my bed, where I have been drinking Diet Sprite, sleeping a lot and watching old movies on my only VCR (It was about time for a re-watch of Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead).
Dorothy "Dottie" Schroeder(Image/AAGBPL.org)
Right now, I am enjoying, and basically reciting along with, A League of Their Own, which is not only my favorite baseball movie but really the only major film about women in professional baseball. How amazing would it have been to really see women playing professional baseball in the  40s and 50s? And how amazing would it be to see it now? Yes, there is a woman playing pro ball in the U.S, but are we ever going to see a league of teams made up entirely of women again?

And if we do, are they going to play in short skirts and v-neck jerseys just to give the game some sex appeal? I fully admit (and blog) that MLB players are hotties but efforts are not made to sexualize them with spandex-style pants and sleeveless jerseys? None of these Jeter calendars are meant to be sexy but couldn't but Danica Patrick and three female tennis stars are in this calendar which had significantly less wardrobe needs. Even in the 40s, women played in above-the-knee skirts, and I cringe when I think of the possibility of a professional, female baseball player dressed like a professional female WWE wrestler or in a "Lovely Ladies of Baseball" calendar.

Could a professional women's baseball league even make it again? The WNBA, launched in 1996, has had less success than most other professional U.S. sports leagues, and WNBA teams draw an average of 8,000 fans per game, which is less than half of what the A's saw at home games in 2009. While some cite the slow, steady growth of the WNBA as a positive omen for the future of the league, the fact remains that attendance is down since the naissance of the league and the players are working too hard for too little money. Will a female baseball league be met with the same reception?

Now that I have nieces, all I want is for them to have the opportunities that I didn't have. My six-year-old niece just wrapped her first season on her Pee Wee softball league and I was lucky enough to catch two games last week. In her first game, I arrived to see her squatting behind the plate at the bottom of the 1st, catching the strikes and covering home plate when a double was hit. For a very small six-year-old, she totally rocked it.

Doing the memory of Gehrig proud in #4
At her first at bat, she hit an RBI single and I couldn't have been prouder. After the inning ended, I congratulated her and pointed out that not even Derek Jeter, her favorite player, gets an RBI every game. She beamed and then ran off to pet a dog, which was what I expect any kid to do.

And even though she also dances, loves art and wants to start cheerleading in the fall, I hope that the love of playing the game sticks with her through her schooling. I know I have already wished that she will one day have Kim Jones' job, but my overall wish (other than her supreme happiness in everything she does) is for her to play in a major league uniform, and maybe have Kim Jones interview her before her first big league start.

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