Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Bob Seger Has Nothing To Do With These Silver Bullets

When I was a teenager my mom saved a large article in our daily newspaper, sports section, obviously, about a new all-girls baseball team that was being formed. I read it with a passion I’ve never read anything prior before. Then I immediately grabbed a pair of scissors, cut out the article and all accompanying photos and put it in my sports scrapbook. I guess you could say it was a precursor to a vision board. This scrapbook held little gems about sports stories that meant a lot to me, had to do with the accomplishments of my favorite players, or were just really great sports moments captured in photos. All of this a clear indicator that I have not fundamentally changed this many years later. 

That all-women’s baseball team? The Colorado Silver Bullets. I didn’t know (until recently, actually) that much like the AAGPBL during WWII, it was a stunt. A simple way to cash in on a novelty. 

Whereas the MLB did not stop during WWII (there were still men playing professional baseball) the AAGPBL was formed as a supplement since most of the big MLB stars were overseas fighting in the war. (There, history teacher, are you happy now? See previous post.) the Colorado Silver Bullets, on the other hand, was a kitschy way to promote beer: Coors Brewing Company. Granted, the man behind the team, Bob Hope (Yes! That Bob Hope! - No. Not that Bob Hope.) wasn’t a misogynist (that I’m aware of) out to make a fool of women playing baseball. He genuinely believed in what he was doing. Still a promotional stunt none-the-less where female baseball players were pitted against male teams.

When I read that article I had one goal: to become a Colorado Silver Bullet when I turned 18. On a side note I also wanted to be on American Gladiators when I turned 18. That didn’t happen either. I think the Bullets would have been a safer bet. 

I was ridiculously excited when my mom told me the following year that the team would be playing an exhibition game at Fenway Park. Spoiler alert: we went. The memories are hazy and I shockingly don’t have the ticket stub from that day but I know I was there. I know this because I have out-of-focus pictures in my brain (it was so effing hot I think my memories combusted) and more importantly because there was no way in hell I was not going to be there to support my fellow ball players. 

I was disappointed to learn that the team folded after 4 years and I was unable to fulfill my dream. I’m sure many other girls’ dreams were dashed when they found out too.

And like with any stunt, there was negative publicity which, for the most part, was that the Silver Bullets didn’t fair well against the men’s teams. They had their moments but from the outsider perspective it was hard for many to take them seriously. Why are you putting these frail little women up against these strong talented men? But their lack of a winning record wasn’t due to a lack of talent or their size but from a lack of support for women in baseball in general. As a country we don’t support or encourage girls in baseball and we need to change that. If we encourage more girls to play they will stick with it and if they stick with it it will allow for enough girls playing baseball that an all women’s league within the US can be formed.

But there is good news! Many more girls’ dreams would be reignited when a women’s USA baseball team would be formed and, get this, played other women’s teams from around the world. How cool is that? At least it’s a step in the right direction.

So what have we learned? To never give up on your dreams. Ever. Even if the thing you want so badly in life no longer exists. And we need to start promoting the hell out of women’s baseball because most people don’t even know that a women’s Team USA baseball even exists.

Were you lucky enough to see the Silver Bullets or Team USA play? I wanna know! Share in the comments below. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

I Once Wrote a Term Paper About the AAGPBL

I never really liked writing, yet it’s become a large part of the profession I’ve chosen. English class was my least favorite subject in school and I hated writing 5 paragraph essays. I still don’t see the point. I can make and fully support any argument in once sentence. Anyway. When it came to history class I was drawn to it. Maybe because for the most part history doesn’t change. We may discover new things or learn a new perspective but the events themselves don’t change, and I for one, like consistency and reliability.

My junior year of high school focused on early to mid 1900s American history. For our end of year term paper we were allowed to choose any topic we wanted between the years 1900 and 1950. There was no question in my mind what I was going to write about. And since you’re here reading this I assume there isn’t in yours. 

I’d venture a guess that 99% of people my age or younger learned about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball league from the movie A League of Their Own. It was a great introduction (and my favorite movie), but as a baseball player, lover, fan, and female athlete, I wanted to know more. No. I wanted to know everything. So, in case you haven’t put two and two together, I wrote my paper on the AAGPBL. 

This was probably the most fun I had doing homework and “school writing”. I love research. I can get lost in learning about something I love before it hits me that I should probably not only focus on a specific angle or topic for what I would soon be writing but actually start writing. I think this lack of focus and my attempt to cover every aspect of the AAGPBL was the reason my history teacher was not over the moon about my paper. He didn’t hate it, but well, he was not overly thrilled with my in depth coverage of the entire inaugural season. 

To me that was the most interesting part: the games themselves. Yes, it was a history class and blah blah blah I should have talked about the significance of the league and its place in history, and yes, that is fascinating, but ugh! I wanted to know how good the fame athletes were! Which teams won! What they did to win! I wanted the play-by-play of each and every game to unfold in my mind! Is that too much to ask for?!?!?

Needles to say, if I were to write that paper now, I would definitely have a different perspective and write about how amazing, talented, risk taking, trailblazing leaders these women (and men) were and how they changed the culture of women in America. Because that is pretty awesome. 

Don’t expect me to actually write it though, I can’t bear the emotional trauma of not getting another A on this topic so close to my heart.

Am I the only nut job to write a school paper about the AAGPBL? Share in the comments below.