About half of this issue of the Baseball Research Journal is devoted to the topic of women in baseball, ranging from stories on the way newspapers covered “the lady baseballists” as early as 1865 through the pioneers of gender inclusivity in Little League in 1974. The cover features the impractical but unforgettable look of the uniforms worn in the mid-century women’s league, the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, which remains the only organized, commercially successful women’s baseball league in the United States to date. Featured articles include:
“Lizzie Murphy: An “All Star” at Fenway Park” by Bill Nowlin
To date, there has only been one woman who played baseball with a team of major leaguers in a big-league ballpark. Her name was Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Murphy and she played for a team of “all-stars” against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. The year was 1922, and the date August 14. The occasion was Tom McCarthy Day—an exhibition game played at Fenway Park. The game was scheduled to benefit ailing but very popular former ballplayer Tommy McCarthy. Lizzie Murphy’s All-Stars beat the Red Sox that day, 3–2.
“Bernice Gera and the Trial of Being First” by Amanda Lane Cumming
On June 24, 1972, Bernice Gera became the first woman to umpire a professional baseball game. Immediately after the game ended, she quit. She fought baseball for five years for the chance to umpire a professional game. Why fight so long for an umpiring career, just to give it up after one game? As Gera was quoted as saying, “Wanting to belong is one of the most powerful things in the world. That’s why sports are so popular. Just rooting for a team makes you feel part of it.” We think of pioneers as being stoic, strong, and preternaturally gifted at the thing they are pursuing. Although she was the first woman umpire, Gera’s story isn’t really about her determination to become an umpire. She was just a woman standing in front of organized baseball, asking it to accept her.
“Black Women Playing Baseball: A Introduction,” by Leslie Heaphy
The contributions of Black women in baseball have been largely overlooked and ignored. Few books or articles exist and those that do focus on the names of only a few owners and players such as Effa Manley, Olivia Taylor, Toni Stone, and Mamie Johnson. Their stories are important but are just the tip of the iceberg. What is presented here is an introduction to the incredible contributions made by many Black women as players, owners, coaches, and other baseball personnel. The primary focus centers on those most readers are not familiar with because of the lack of attention paid to these women. News coverage of women playing baseball has always been limited and often not complimentary in tone. For Black women, the press coverage has historically been even worse because they were up against issues due to sex and race.