Following in the footsteps of Bernice Gera and Christine Wren, Pam Postema became the third woman to serve as an umpire in professional baseball when she appeared in the rookie Gulf Coast League in 1977.
Then a recent graduate of the Al Somers Umpire School, Postema’s goal was simple, “I wanted to become a major league umpire.”
Little League Baseball was officially founded in 1939, the same year that the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum opened its doors in Cooperstown, N.Y.
With only three teams in 1939, Little League started small in the neighborhoods of Williamsport, Pa. But by 1947, the Little League board of directors organized a national tournament for the existing 17 teams in the organization. This later became known as the Little League Baseball World Series. By 1964, Little League Baseball was granted a Federal Charter and signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
The release was terse and understated, but the news rocked the baseball world.
Eleanor Engle, it seemed, was going to play professional baseball. And in 1952, that got everyone’s attention.
It was 1973, and change was in the air. The Equal Rights Amendment had recently been passed by Congress and was sent to the states; President Nixon had just signed Title IX; and in Pawtucket, R.I., the Darlington American Little League was being sued for refusing to let nine-year-old Alison “Pookie” Fortin play baseball.
The situation in Pawtucket was not unique: Little League Baseball had barred girls from its affiliates since the early 1950s, and backed up its decision by voiding the charters of leagues that allowed girls to play.
For the final games of the 1977 regular season, the New York Yankees granted Melissa Ludtke, an accredited sports reporter for Sports Illustrated, permission to enter its clubhouse to interview players. Such access was important because every sportswriter knows that the locker room is where interviews with players traditionally take place. It's also where reporters are able – before and after games – to observe the players’ interactions, talk at length with individuals, and absorb the tenor of the team.
“I love the process of discovery. I‘m constantly looking for more to learn and new places to search for material I’m curious about,” says Dorothy Seymour Mills, a woman who labored in behind the scenes in baseball for almost 50 years.
Married to Professor Harold Seymour, she worked with him as a literary team that helped put baseball on the academic map.
Before there was Abby Wambach, Jenny Finch or the Williams sisters, there was Dottie, Kit and “All the Way” Mae.
These characters from the 1992 hit film “A League of Their Own” may not have been real, but they were based on the women who played in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League from 1943-54. Forty years later, the movie created icons out of female athletes and gave young women role models who were strong and tough on the diamond but wore dresses and makeup off it.
As a child growing up in New York City in the first half of the 20th Century, Corinne Hillman was surrounded by baseball. Yet even with her pick of three New York teams to root for, her passion for the sport did not come until later in life when her husband introduced her to the joy of the game.
Today, Hillman's passion for the game provides a link to the past for local students who visit the Hall of Fame.
Suzyn Waldman has spent most of her broadcasting career overcoming obstacles. Now, after more than two decades of work, she is recognized as a leader in her profession.
Since 2005, Waldman has been joined by John Sterling in the New York Yankees’ WCBS-AM radio booth. In her role as a color commentator, she became the first woman to hold a full-time position as a big league broadcaster.
Helene Hathaway Robison Britton grew up in a baseball family. Her father and uncle, Frank and Stanley Robison, owned the Cleveland Spiders and later purchased the St. Louis Brown Stockings – later changing the team’s name to Cardinals.
Upon the death of Stanley Robison in March 1911, Britton inherited a controlling interest in the Cardinals. At a time when American women did not yet have the right to vote in most places, the 32-year-old mother of two became the first woman to own and operate a team in Major League Baseball history.