COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Making the big leagues is a dream held by millions of young boys on baseball diamonds all over the world.
But lesser-known perhaps, it is also held by little girls.
The latest example is knuckleball pitcher Eri Yoshida, the Japanese pitching sensation who debuted in pro ball in the United States for the Golden Baseball League’s Chico Outlaws. The first female to pitch professionally in two countries, Yoshida donated her game-worn uniform and game-used bat from her May 29, 2010 debut to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Claire Smith has served as a pioneer journalist on two fronts, first as a woman who helped break down the barriers of access to her story subjects, and second as an African-American who continues the struggle for civil rights for all Americans.
Originally hailing from Philadelphia, Smith graduated from Temple University and soon began her writing career with the local newspapers.
Toni Stone's passion for baseball led her to embrace the game through her whole life, while skill and competitiveness made her a pioneer in the Negro leagues. Battling to prove herself to opponents, fans and coaches and teammates, Stone blazed a trail for all women in men's pro baseball.
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Nobody’s perfect, right?
Tell that to Chelsea Baker and her knuckleball.
Baker pitched her second perfect game in less than a year on April 9, 2010 at the age of 12 for her Little League team in Plant City, Fla. Baker then donated her jersey from that game to the Baseball Hall of Fame. It is currently on display in the Museum’s Diamond Dreams exhibit.
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – In 1988, Julie Croteau filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against her high school for not allowing her to play on the baseball team.
She lost. But Croteau didn’t let the lawsuit stop her from playing the game.
She went on to be the first female to play men’s Division III college baseball at St. Mary’s College in Maryland, played the inaugural season of the Colorado Silver Bullets women’s professional baseball team that existed for four seasons in the 1990s and was the first of two women to play in the professional Hawaiian Winter League in 1994.
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – In an era where women were often not allowed even to play baseball, Amanda Clement proved that umpiring the game was not a job exclusive to one gender.
Amanda Clement was baseball’s first female professional umpire. And her contribution to the game is still being felt today.
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – “We would rather play ball than eat,” insisted catcher Lavonne “Pepper” Paire. “We put our hearts and souls into the league. We thought it was our job to do our best, because we were the All-American girls. We felt like we were keeping up our country’s morale.”
The history of women playing the game of baseball dates back to at least the 1860s, when Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. fielded a team. Some 80 years later, arguably the first formal women’s professional baseball league, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, first took the field.
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Edith Grace Houghton was a baseball prodigy, playing professional baseball from the age of 10 in 1922.
After her playing days were done, she worked as a scout for a major league ballclub, one of the few women to hold that job.
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- An annual award bears her name. It is not a 24-carat gold-plated statuette like an Oscar or Waterford crystal like a People’s Choice Award.
Her award…is a vintage cowbell.
However, that cowbell, encased and mounted in a Plexiglas box bearing an engraved inscription, known as The Hilda Award, speaks wonderful volumes about the woman it is named after. Her name was Hilda Chester.
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – On June 11, 1997, a bench-clearing brawl broke out on a baseball diamond in Albany, Ga.
But what was unusual about this particular rhubarb was that one of the fighting baseball teams was made up of women. The Colorado Silver Bullets were just like any all-male team – when a pitcher tried to show up one of their batters – they showed him what they were made of.
"If they were playing with guys, the same thing would have happened," said team member Tamara Ivie. "We just didn't want to say, 'Well, we're girls ...' "