Baccellieri: How Melissa Ludtke blazed a trail for women in sports media

From Emma Baccellieri at Sports Illustrated on September 28, 2018:

Baseball is “emblematic of the highest standards of integrity and morality in professional sports … Standards of conduct and the attitudes and behavior of people in the ‘big leagues’ often serve as role models for millions of children.” That was Major League Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn in 1978, as recounted the following year by Roger Angell in The New Yorker. Taken at face value, his statement is fairly innocuous; it might as well have been the result of a random platitude generator, built from thousands of similarly sweeping sentences about the virtues of the game. But Kuhn’s intent was as specific as his statement was broad. He was explaining, to a federal judge, his reason for excluding female reporters from teams’ clubhouses. If baseball were to give women the same access as men, he told the court—well, so much for those high standards of integrity and morality.

The case was Ludtke v. Kuhn. On one side, the most powerful man in baseball. On the other, 27-year-old Sports Illustrated writer Melissa Ludtke, who had been barred from the New York Yankees clubhouse while covering the previous year’s World Series. In response, SI’s parent company, Time, Inc., had sued. Forty years ago this week, the court ruled in Ludtke’s favor.

The decision was a watershed moment for women in sports media. Legally, the change was immediate. But culturally, there was still more work ahead—work that is, in some sense, still being done today.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: September 28, 2018. Last Updated: September 28, 2018.