A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about an 11-year old girl who loves to play baseball. In New Hampshire, where she lives, she ended up in the midst of a controversy created by adult coaches, after a coach allegedly threatened to "bean" her as a tactic to get her to quit playing.
Here is that girl at bat in a scrimmage of the Boston Slammers, an all-girl baseball team. After the Slammers' coaches heard about her situation with her New Hampshire league, where she was the only girl in her age group, the Boston Slammers invited her to play on their team. On Sunday afternoon, she did. Her father, Dan, drove her an hour and a half from Southern New Hampshire to Boston to practice with the Slammers, and while expressing his gratitude for their invitation, he told me that until the Slammers called he hadn't known that all girls baseball teams and leagues existed. Instead of being the only girl on a team, his daughter is now surrounded by girls her age who love playing baseball as much as she does.
Meanwhile, back in New Hampshire, the Oyster River Youth Association, who oversees sports activities for youth in this three-town region of Southern New Hampshire, completed their own "independent" investigation of the alleged coaches' threat – that they said they would instruct a player to “bean” this player. Other coaches had brought this information to the attention of the girl's father. After the association president claimed in a newspaper was false, he arranged for the investigation to take place. On May 2, the association released their findings. The coach found to have made a comment regarding wanting this player to quit – though he denied proposing that any physical harm be done to her – was dismissed.
Still pending is what will happen in the wake of these investigative findings. In Durham, one of the three towns whose youth play sports through this association, the town council voted to withhold funds until the report was issued.
For now the Boston Slammers are this 11-year old's new team.
On May 18 the Boston Slammers, fielding two full teams, will travel to New Jersey for the regional Baseball for All tournament named after Maria Pepe, whose 1974 legal action made it possible for girls to play Little League Baseball in New Jersey. In neighboring Delaware, two girls, Kim Green and Alice Weldin heard that girls were playing Little League and they wanted to do the same. When they discovered the ruling didn't apply to them, Kim's mother, Sylvia, threatened legal action and then started a Little League team all their own. The girls' team was called the Angels. Kim's father, Dallas, then the Phillies’ director of minor leagues and scouting and would become the Phillies manager in 1979, was asked about his daughter playing Little League with the boys, "he told them if a girl was good enough to compete with the boys, she should be allowed to do it," according to the Washington Post.
A baseball player's mom, Karen Zerby Buzzelle, founded the Boston Slammers. When I hung out along the sidelines yesterday afternoon and watched the girls scrimmage, it was mostly moms who were sitting with me. Then, there was one dad from New Hampshire who had brought his 11-year old daughter to this neighboring state so she could play baseball with girls. This strikes me as not so different than what happened in 1974 when girls from the neighboring states of New Jersey and Delaware wanted to play baseball, and inspired by each other, they did.