Cooperstown Symposium: Women in blue

From SABR member Bill Francis at on June 1, 2012, with mention of SABR members Jean Hastings Ardell and Perry Barber:

The 24th annual Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture reached its midway point with more than 20 varied presentations throughout Thursday. Whether the subject involve Kenesaw Mountain Landis, big league baseball’s first commissioner, the role of public art in baseball parks or the building of Yankee Stadium, attendees had a wide range of topics to choose from.

Co-sponsored by the State University of New York College at Oneonta and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, the three-day symposium examines the impact of baseball on American culture from inter- and multi-disciplinary perspectives.

One of Thursday’s highlights was a late-morning presentation in the Hall’s Learning Center entitled “Women in Black: Pearls of Wisdom from Behind the Plate.” For more than an hour, moderator Jean Hastings Ardell interviewed female umpire Perry Barber. A former singer/songwriter who opened for Bruce Springsteen among others, Barber umpiring journey began at 28 and for the next 32 years has taken her around the world.

“My mother suggested I start umpiring Little League, and at the time she suggested it, it was the very furthest thing from my mind,” Barber said in an interview later. “But the moment I first walked onto a baseball field and encountered this strange new thing of people yelling at me and telling me I was terrible, whereas up until that point in time all I had ever been told was that I was wonderful and people loved me and praised and petted me all the time. So it was a very eye-opening experience but one that for whatever reason did not deter me as much as it made me determined to solve the puzzle of why people were behaving that way.”

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Originally published: June 4, 2012. Last Updated: June 4, 2012.