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 ...' "
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – When one strolls through the Hall of Fame Gallery in Cooperstown, he or she will discover the stories of 295 (soon to be 297 when Barry Larkin and Ron Santo earn their plaques in July) of the most outstanding individuals who ever took part in our National Pastime.
Yet, one plaque in particular might stand out to the unfamiliar visitor – that of Effa Manley.
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Tom Kotchman has spent 35 years in the minor leagues as a player, coach and scout. His son Casey made his major league debut at age 21 and has spent 8 seasons in the big leagues – hitting .306 for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011.
Together, they are an impressive combination of baseball history.
Fresh of his playoff run with the Rays and his father’s 33rd year as a manager, the pair made the ultimate road trip to the home of baseball and visited the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday.
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Former Braves manager Bobby Cox may be retired from baseball, but he certainly isn’t out of the game.
“I see the guys all the time. I talk to Fredi [Gonzalez] and Roger [McDowell] daily,” he said referring to the Braves manager and pitching coach. “I get my baseball fix that way.”
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – It has often been said that it's like a baseball card collection coming to life when one attends an event at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. But former big leaguer Dmitri Young added a twist to this on Monday.
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – The distance between Zeist, Netherlands and Cooperstown, N.Y. is about 3,600 miles, an amazing journey that finds Bert Blyleven still trying to comprehend.
For the Dutch-born Blyleven, a pitcher elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Jan. 5 on his 14th try on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot, Tuesday was his third trip to Cooperstown but his first since he joined the game's most exclusive fraternity.
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Roberto Alomar was born into a world of baseball.
On Tuesday, Alomar made his first pilgrimage to the home of baseball – and for Alomar, it felt like he was coming home.