Women breaking baseball ground is as old as a 19th century novel and as current as recent headlines, as recent as St. Patrick’s Day.
They’ve made history and news on the field, in dugouts, front offices and press boxes.
Some of the history played out in Fort Myers with a legendary athlete named Babe Didrikson, a professional barnstorming team called the Colorado Silver Bullets and a Boston Red Sox minor league coach
Speaking of Bullets. …
Here are some bullet points in a quick survey overview that is far from definitive about women and baseball:
¦ In Jane Austen’s 1818 century, “Northanger Abbey,” there is a reference to baseball.
¦ Olivia Pichardo of Brown University became the first women to play in a Division I baseball game. That was on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. The 19-year-old freshman entered as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the ninth inning of a 10-1 loss to Bryant in Providence, R.I. She grounded out to first.
¦ Bloomer Girls were originally dubbed that because of the outfits they wore. Girls and women were playing organized baseball starting the year after the Civil War ended. The Library of Congress website notes that two women’s baseball teams were formed in 1866 at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N. Y. A team called the New York Bloomer Girls played in the 1920s and 1930s.
¦ Kim Ng is the general manager of the Miami Marlins and the highest ranking female executive in baseball. She is the first woman general manager of the four major North American Professional Baseball league.
¦ Effa Manley was a co-owner of the Newark Eagles of the Negro Leagues in the 1930s and 1940s and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. She is the only woman in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
¦ Bianca Smith helped break ground in Fort Myers when in 2021 she became the first Black woman coach in professional baseball when the Red Sox hired her to work with minor-league players at their Fort Myers facility. Ms. Smith is no longer with the Red Sox organization. She left the Red Sox in January to, according to news reports, pursue other opportunities.
¦ Rachel Balkovec is the manager of the Tampa Tarpons of the Florida State League. The Tarpons are an affiliate of the New York Yankees. Ms. Balkovec is the first woman to manage a team in an affiliated league. The 2023 season will be her second in the job.
¦ Babe Didrikson, one of the greatest athletes of all-time, suited up for the Philadelphia A’s for a spring training game at Terry Park in 1934 against the Brooklyn Dodgers. She pitched one inning and got out of a no-out, two runners on base pickle by inducing a triple play.
¦ The Colorado Silver Bullets were a women’s professional team that traveled the country and beyond from 1994 to 1997. The Silver Bullets held spring training games at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers.
¦ Kelsie Whitmore has played three seasons of independent professional baseball in recent years, most recently with the Staten Island Ferryhawks of the independent Atlantic League in 2022. In 48 career games, she hit .048. Ms. Whitmore also pitched in 13 games over 13 1/3 innings. She has an 0-1 record with a 14.18 ERA.
¦ Edith Houghton became the first female scout for a Major League Baseball team when the Philadelphia Phillies hired her. She remained in the job until 1952. Ms. Houghton, who was the youngest of 10 children in her family, died in Sarasota in 2013, eight days before turning 101. She was so notable that her death merited a New York Times obituary.
¦ Claire Smith is now an assistant professor at the Lew Klein College of Media & Communications in Philadelphia. Ms. Smith is also a renowned sportswriter whose career stops included covering the New York Times for the New York Times. She has been honored by the Hall of Fame. ¦
I am back again concerning Nellie. She has a park named after her in Dudley, Massachusetts where she lived. Nellie was honored in the State House in Boson, Massachusetts. where she got a standing ovation. She also had the honor of throwing out the first pitch at Fenway Park in Boston prior to a Red Sox game.
Finally, her daughter has written a book about her mother designed to be read by young people. The book is written in rhythm and rhyme. She is trying to get it published.
Your list of women in baseball is missing one lady who actually has a display in the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame. Her name is Nellie Thompson Twardzik. She has the distinction of being the first girl ever in the U.S. to play for an All-Boys High School Baseball Team. The High School is named Bartlett High in Webster, Massachusetts, and, I believe, the year was 1935. Nellie played First Base and is in the Bartlett High Hall of Fame. Her brothers taught her how to play on the Black Road. It got its name for the coal dust that had accumulated over the years. She for a time had a team called Nellies All-Stars which played against many barnstorming teams during the Depression years.
Channel 7 in Boston did a segment about Nellie several years before she passed away. She was interviewed in her house and at the end of the interview, Nellie and the sports director of Channel 7 Boston went outside and they played pass or catch. Nellie at the time was in her late 80’s
Please give Nellie some recognition. She has earned it. Thank You