2020 SABR/IWBC Women in Baseball Conference schedule
Here is the schedule of events, along with presenter bios and abstracts, for the second annual SABR/IWBC Women in Baseball Conference, which will be held virtually on Zoom on September 11-13, 2020.
Note: All times listed are in Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).
Visit SABR.org/women-in-baseball-conference to register.
Friday, September 11 | Saturday, September 12 | Sunday, September 13
Friday, September 11
2:00-2:30 p.m.: Welcome Remarks and Conference Overview
Dr. Kat Williams is a Professor of Women’s Sport History at Marshall University, author of The All-American Girls After the AAGPBL: How Playing Pro Ball Shaped Their Lives, and Isabel “Lefty” Alvarez: The Improbable Life of a Cuban American Baseball Star. She is a lifelong baseball fan, and former shortstop. It is her sincere belief that she accomplished all the former goals because of the latter. Through her teaching, scholarship and advocacy she has dedicated many years to the preservation of girl’s and women’s baseball history. She continues that work as president and a founding member of the International Women’s Baseball Center.
Scott Bush is SABR’s Chief Executive Officer. He joined SABR in 2018 after serving as the Senior Vice President for Business Development with the Goldklang Group. Since graduating from the University of Minnesota, Bush has held positions with increasing responsibilities in both sports and media, including a five-year stint as Assistant General Manager for the St. Paul Saints, where he played a key role in establishing CHS Field in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Dr. Eric Fulcomer has served as Rockford University’s president since 2016. Previously, he was the Vice President for Enrollment Management at Rockford University since 2013 and has more than two decades of leadership experience in higher education. He served for 19 years at Bluffton University in Ohio in several leadership roles, leaving as the school’s Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Life. Dr. Fulcomer received his doctorate in Higher Education Administration from the University of Toledo, his master’s degree in College Student Personnel from Bowling Green State University, and his bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature, cum laude, from Eastern Michigan University.
2:30-3:00 p.m.: What Does 6-4-3 Mean? The Role of Non-CIS Males in Baseball Fandom, Allison R. Levin
Scholars have examined sports fans as laying somewhere on a spectrum from social to extreme fandom (Billings, Butterworth, and Truman, 2014). While widely applied to all fans, it has become increasingly clear that this spectrum only applies to CIS males. We consciously or unconsciously view all other fans through the lens of the following three roles: the tomboy fan, the accessory fan, or the pink-and-proud fan (Geislesser, 2017). As the proportion of non-CIS fans continues to rise and become more vocal, especially on social media, the role of MLB and its teams play in perpetuating the three fandom stereotypes and what a “real” fan looks like, the fandom becomes clearer. For these fans, they need to perform identity each time they engage with the sport. As a result, there is a double-edged barrier to diversity; the non-CIS males don’t pursue playing or working in the game and those in charge who grew up as fans unconsciously discriminate against those seeking new opportunities. Thus, MLB’s underlying masculine ideology and its fans lead to non-CIS males adapting their personalities to fit into the fandom or merely taking their fandom elsewhere.
Allison R. Levin is an adjunct Associate Professor of Sports Communication at Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri. Her research looks at the intersection of fandom, gender, new media, and sports. Allison currently serves on the Board of Directors for SABR.
3:00-3:30 p.m.: “Isabel “Lefty” Alvarez, Dr. Kat Williams
This work is from my book Isabel Lefty Alvarez: The Improbable Life of a Cuban American Baseball Star. The story of Isabel “Lefty” Alvarez is one that can be told through various lenses. We could celebrate her athletic talent and her bravery. We could place her within the history of the AAGPBL. Or, her life as a Cuban immigrant, a woman of color could be the focus. In this presentation, I will examine her life in Cuba and then her immigration to the United States by using the intersections of race, ethnicity, gender and sport. For many women, including Lefty, sport becomes a refuge from the physical and emotional difficulties of life. In her case it also helped to circumvent the racism that came her way as a Cuban immigrant. While her baseball path paralleled that of the American Negro Leagues, they never crossed. Still, what we know about the role of sport, especially baseball, in the survival of both men and women is expanded if we also insert gender and ethnicity into the mix. Lefty’s life offers that opportunity.
Dr. Kat Williams is the author of Isabel “Lefty” Alvarez: The Improbable Life of a Cuban American Baseball Star and president of the International Women’s Baseball Center.
3:30-4:00 p.m.: An Analysis of MLB’s 15-Year Gender Report Card, Rebecca Herman
Since 2004, the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport has published an annual Racial and Gender Report Card for several sports including Major League Baseball. This presentation will take a deep dive into 15 years of data in order to identify trends and chart a possible projection. This will include the types of roles held, teams, regions, longevity, and change. While the grade assigned by the Institute will be noted, the analysis will be independently conducted. One goal of the research is to overlay the programs initiated by teams and MLB to bring more women into the sport and to determine the level of impact such programs have had on hiring practices. Another goal of the researcher is to interview a variety of women in baseball to ascertain their thoughts and perspectives on the progress being made as well as their ideas for continued improvement. Ultimately, recommendations for target areas and interventions will be made.
Dr. Rebecca Herman is a graduate professor for Purdue University Global. In 2018, she was selected to develop and teach a six-week, online course to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Purdue University and Professional Baseball. The course, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame: 150 Years,” was a huge success and nearly 700 people completed the course in 2019. The course also won the Purdue Online Best Course Design in 2020. In addition to her academic credentials, Dr. Herman is also certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), completed an executive course through Columbia University – Implementing Winning Strategies, and is a Certified Trainer for Jack Canfield’s Success Principles. Dr. Herman is a member of SABR, IWBC, and an associate member of the AAGPBL.
5:00-5:45 p.m.: Social hour/talking women’s baseball/ book reading by Ethan Bryan, A Year of Playing Catch
On January 1, 2018, I played catch with both of my daughters. Single-digit temperatures limited our games to 30 throws, which was long enough to cause my fingers to sting, my teeth to chatter, and my nose to run. That night at the dinner table, they encouraged and inspired me to try and play catch, every single day, for an entire year. I was convinced the effort would end in surgery. I could not have imagined it would be one of the best years of my life. On day #152, I played catch with former AAGPBL player Mary Moore and Jeopardy! champion and umpire Perry Barber at Beyer Stadium. We shared stories of on-the-field success and life lessons. On day #250, at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, I again played catch with Mary Moore and Terry McKinley Uselmann—two women who played in the AAGPBL—as NLBM President Bob Kendrick told stories of the Negro Leagues players. From Chapter 15 of the book, A Year of Playing Catch, publishing September 2020.
Ethan D. Bryan is convinced that good stories bring people together. The author of more than 10 books, his baseball stories have landed him invitations to the White House, and to speak at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and brief appearances in two documentaries. Bald since the age of six, Ethan knows about overcoming personal obstacles and being bullied. He also understands the power of hope, persevering through hundreds of manuscript rejections. A major fan of both Dr Pepper and donuts, Ethan was one of the best benchwarmers on his high school junior varsity baseball team. Ethan lives in Springfield, Missouri, with his wife, Jamie, and daughters, Kaylea and Sophie. He still dreams of playing baseball for his beloved Kansas City Royals. His writing can be found at ethanbryan.com or on Twitter at @Ethan_Bryan.
5:45-6:00 p.m.: Preview of new IWBC Exhibit, Dr. Kat Williams, IWBC President
Dr. Kat Williams is the author of Isabel “Lefty” Alvarez: The Improbable Life of a Cuban American Baseball Star and president of the International Women’s Baseball Center.
6:00-6:45 p.m.: Keynote Speaker: Lauren Meyer
Lauren Meyer is the director of The Other Boys of Summer, a film that explores civil rights and equality in America through the lives of Negro League baseball players. These are the men (and a few women) who played professional baseball in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s alongside Jackie Robinson. The Negro Leagues was professional baseball, on par with MLB, that existed before African Americans were allowed in Major League Baseball. Lauren grew up in New Jersey and attended Rutgers University. She is an Emmy Award-nominated director and her work has been seen on dozens of TV networks and digital platforms, including ABC, NBC, Nickelodeon, ESPN, HGTV, A&E, TLC, Discovery, Netflix, and Amazon. Her specialty is storytelling and being a champion for the underdog.
6:45-7:15 p.m.: Tillie Ford, Early African American Baseball Pioneer, Paul Spyhalski
My initial research on the Texas Black Spiders was published online as “The Black Bats of Mason City and Beyond” by the SABR Iowa Field of Dreams Chapter as part of their Iowa Baseball Project in 2009. I was able to briefly mention in that article that the Black Spiders had signed Baby Tilliford as a young female pitcher in 1935. Since that time, I have been able to expand my research on the Texas Black Spiders including the 1935 season in which “Baby Tilliford” joined an otherwise all-black barnstorming team on a tour that extended from Texas to the Midwest. Tracking down her identity and history remains a challenge as her name appears in articles and box scores in at least four different ways during the season: Asa Pilford, Tillie Ford, Baby Tilliford and simply Tilleford. In my quest to tell her story, I have been able to locate an article on the life of Faith Hassel Butcher of Lincoln, Nebraska. Ms. Butcher, then age 73, tells the story of pitching a couple of innings of an exhibition game for the Texas Black Spiders. It is possible that Faith Hassel Butcher and Tillie Ford were the same person and there is only one story of a black female pitcher with the Texas Black Spiders in the 1935. It is also possible that there are two entirely separate black women who pitched for the Texas Black Spiders during the 1930s. Either way, it is my belief that their story is worthy of being told, particularly as the largely untold story of Tillie Ford involves a black female pitcher barnstorming with an all-black men’s team fourteen years before Toni Stone’s first signing as a professional ball player in 1949.
Paul Spyhalski has been working on parts of Black baseball’s history in Minnesota, Iowa and Texas since 2005. His baseball publications include The Black Bats of Mason City and Beyond by the Iowa Field of Dreams Chapter and “How Buck Became a Texas Black Spider: John “Buck” O’Neil’s 1936 Baseball Season” in Black Ball: A Negro Leagues Journal. An article on the integrated 1894 Council Bluffs Merchant Maroons is pending publication in Black Ball. He presented at SABR 44 on the Texas Black Spiders as “Texas’ Black Barnstorming Champions” and at the 2016 and 2017 Jerry Malloy Conferences.
Saturday, September 12
11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.: Player Panel
Madison Femia is a catcher from Geneva, Illinois, and she has participated in MLB’s Trailblazers Series and Girls Baseball Breakthrough Series and the MLB GRIT: Girls ID Tour. She also played for the American Eagles in Baseball For All’s inaugural National Girls Baseball Tournament. She has played baseball since she was 4 years old and has been selected to USSSA all-star teams, winning multiple tournament MVP awards.
Rachel Folden is a minor league hitting coach and Lead Hitting Lab Technician for the Chicago Cubs. She is the owner of Folden Fastpitch, training baseball and softball players across the country and based in northwest Indiana. She was a pro softball player in National Pro Fastpitch from 2008-12 and a four-time All-NPF player. She is a graduate of and four-time All-American softball player for Marshall University. She grew up in Southern California and attended Diamond Bar High School.
Marika Lyszczyk is a catcher on the Canadian women’s national team and competed in the 2019 Women’s World Cup qualifier in Mexico, where the team came in third place and qualified for the World Cup tournament. She plays college baseball at Rivier University in New Hampshire, appearing in eight of 10 games as a freshman during the shortened 2020 season. In high school, Marika played in the Premier Baseball League for the Whalley Chiefs in Surrey, British Columbia. She started as a catcher in grade 9 and has continued in that position as well as some pitching. She attended an MLB GRIT: Girls ID Tour event in grade 12, where she was scouted by Program 15 and earned a chance to play in college.
Bianca Smith is an Assistant Baseball Coach and the Hitting Coordinator at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin. After graduating from Dartmouth College, where she played varsity softball and club baseball, Bianca pursued her dual JD/MBA at Case Western Reserve University where she also worked as the Director of Baseball Operations/Graduate Assistant Coach. She has also worked in Baseball Operations for the Texas Rangers and the Cincinnati Reds, in Amateur Administration at the MLB’s Commissioner’s Office, as an assistant baseball coach for the University of Dallas, and as a youth baseball and softball coach for the Rangers, Reds, and Milwaukee Brewers Academies. She serves as the Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance and Administration at Carroll and as a hitting/fielding instructor for Aces Baseball in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.
Moderator: Elizabeth Benn is Senior Coordinator of Player Programs, Baseball Development, and Diversity at MLB’s Office of the Commissioner, where she has worked since 2017. She completed her BA at the University of Toronto in Philosophy, English, and French, and received her MA from Columbia University in Philosophy. In addition to her role at MLB, she is an Adjunct Lecturer in Philosophy at Lehman College, a baseball and softball coach, and a pitcher in the New York City Metro Baseball League.
12:15-12:45 p.m.: Harriet Goodwill Spalding, Keith Robbins
For the majority of her life, Harriet Goodwill Spalding was a resident of Rockford, Ill. She came to Rockford area in the 1840’s and began a most unusual life’s journey of crop failures, poverty, marriage and watching her husbands succumb to illness and mistreated diseases, and the all too common 19th century plague of untreated infant mortality which took two of her young babies before the age of two. All told, while fame and fortune took her around the world and away from Rockford, the west side of Rockford was her home and its people gave her a sense of place. She is unknown to many for while her presence was noted, as a 19th Century woman, living from 1820 to 1917; she had no vote, no legal standing to make contracts, no independent economic presence, and no legal title to property. Yet her name was on the founding documents of the AG Spalding Company in 1876, she was found at the first two Spalding stores in Chicago’s downtown, and famously she chaperoned the National League All Stars as the went around the world in 1888 & 1889. Her imprint on the beginnings of Sporting Goods as an industry and baseball might be legally invisible but to the observant eye her leadership and presence was vital. The purpose of this presentation is vital to highlight in her hometown one of Rockford’s most celebrated woman. The purpose of the presentation and research paper is to highlight what she did and when she was active in promoting baseball and Sporting Goods, 1876 to 1917, in an era before Woman’s suffrage.
Keith Spalding Robbins, from Wake Forest, North Carolina, has been a SABR member since 2013. He is a global sports business consultant who holds an MBA from Elon University. He has presented at the Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture at the Baseball Hall of Fame and writes regular baseball history columns around the Internet.
12:45-1:15 p.m.: A Great Day For Baseball, Bridget Mulcahy
Laraine Day was a popular Hollywood actress whose film and television career spanned six decades. She married former MLB player, Leo Durocher, in 1948 when he was the manager of the New York Giants. An enthusiastic supporter of the team from the outset, Day became known as “The First Lady of Baseball”, and brought her Hollywood expertise to the game when she pioneered the role of pregame TV host and interviewer with a 15-minute segment before every home game, “Day with the Giants.” She was one of the first to expand media coverage of Major League Baseball at a time when there were few televised games. Day created entertainment and interest by providing in-depth coverage of the players and their wives in order to give fans better insight into their off-the-field lives. Day was also no stranger to controversy, as her marriage to Durocher had been fodder for the gossip tabloids. She later ignited a firestorm of outrage when she appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine in 1955, clasping the shoulder of Giants center fielder, Willie Mays, which some considered tabo — showing a white woman touching a black man.
Bridget Mulcahy is a graduate of University of California Davis (‘17) and has worked in baseball at various levels for four years, from Division 1 NCAA to collegiate summer league (Cape Cod/New England) to MLB teams and their affiliates. She has experience in baseball operations, community outreach, media, marketing, and promotions. In 2018, she began scouting during the Arizona Fall League, helping to evaluate prospects and write interviews and stories as a freelance journalist for her blog, Cheap Little Swing. She was an on-field promotions member for the Rockies and Diamondbacks during Spring Training in Scottsdale, Arizona for the last two years.
1:15-1:45 p.m.: Rewriting the Baseball Rules, Tavi Kodiak
Women play baseball, umpire baseball, coach baseball, report on baseball, build and restore baseball parks, and own baseball teams … so why don’t the Official Rules of Baseball reflect that? Over a span of about a week in July, I rewrote the Official Rules of Baseball. Well, not really. What I did was replace any instance of gender with a term that did not use gender. I also looked up the most common last names of the different ethnic backgrounds that already play in the MLB and updated the examples to be more inclusive. Nothing has changed except those two elements. And somehow the rules still work. I’ve also written an article to accompany the new (un)official rules, explaining why I did this and why the changes must be made now to make baseball live up to its insistence that it’s America’s Pastime. Women are baseball’s future. Major League Baseball must embrace that if it is going to survive.
Tavi Kodiak’s name is Lauren Stewart, but she writes under the pen name Tavi Kodiak. Tavi writes for the website Dodger Yard. She grew up loving baseball and softball, but was bullied out of them as a kid. It took about 15 years for her to come back to the fact that she loves sports. Tavi never, ever wants anyone to feel like they don’t belong because of language. You can find her on Twitter @szn_baseball. She is based out of Los Angeles, California. You can read the article and rules by clicking here.
2:00-2:30 p.m.: Dolly Vardens: 1st African American Women’s Baseball Team, Karen E. Holleran
There are some things that have been lost or forgotten to history and one such thing is the Dolly Varden African American women’s baseball team. The name Dolly Varden was not unique to baseball; she was a fictional character in Charles Dickens’ Barnaby Rudge, and the original Dolly Vardens baseball team was comprised of white men. John Lang created a female version of the Dolly Vardens in Chester, Pennsylvania. They were not only watched as a sport, they were also considered a novelty act. These women played the game in corsets, bloomers, long sleeves, and high button shoes (Pickles 2). Despite those uncomfortable uniforms, they were considered competent and professional players, and notably they were the first women’s team to be paid. Originally, the teams were composed of white male baseball players; however, the scope of the teams changed to all African American women in baseball in the 1880s. Owing to the fact that these teams were considered novelty acts, the Dolly Varden baseball teams were considered the Harlem Globetrotters of baseball in their heyday.
Karen E. Holleran is a native of Waynesburg, Pennsylvania. She is a graduate of Waynesburg College with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts in English and a Master of Arts in English at Duquesne University. She also has a Certificate of History from West Virginia University. Growing up in Waynesburg with parents who loved reading and history made a positive impact on her to share her love of teaching in the East Coast and the Midwest. Ms. Holleran’s work has been published in encyclopedias, dictionaries, and various academic books. Currently, Karen is a retired educator who resides in Leland, North Carolina. She concentrates her research on women in sports, baseball, American Literature, and Westerns and the West. She has presented papers with her colleague Dr. Tamara Fudge on the Orphan Train, The Rifleman, the Harvey Girls, and the Horse Pack Librarians.
2:30-3:00 p.m.: Put That Sister on the Field, Dr. Milbert O. Brown Jr.
This qualitative study presents the stern and quiet voice of Mamie “Peanut” Johnson’s confrontation with discrimination and later acceptance as the first female pitcher in Black professional baseball’s Negro Leagues. As the Negro League celebrates their 100th anniversary this year, one of the pioneers was Mamie Johnson, only one of three women to play baseball for the league’s Indianapolis Clowns. Johnson’s maiden name was Belton, before marriage to Charles Johnson. As a kid, Mamie Belton gained strength in her right arm by throwing rocks at crows that perched on her grandmother’s South Carolina fence. Belton continued to play baseball in sandlot fields with male-dominated teams. After moving to Washington, D.C., Mamie Belton wanted to try out for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in Virginia. As a Black woman, she witnessed the harsh reality of Jane Crow restrictions. Mamie was not allowed to step on the field by the all-white women’s baseball organization. In an interview with the researcher, she said that “they just looked at me like I was from out of space.” This audio dairy gathered from several interviews from Mamie Johnson renders rich narratives of the Negro Leagues’ post-Jackie Robinson era. The study will consist of a multimedia presentation featuring Johnson’s experiences of playing professional baseball in the Negro Leagues as a Black woman.
Dr. Milbert O. Brown Jr. is a remarkable storyteller. During his career, he has captured the historical and cultural tapestry of Black communities, and people using his gifts as an artist, editor, photojournalist, and writer. Brown has combined his talents in producing independent creative projects as the principal consultant of Brown Media Consulting. He also serves as the International Editor of The Oracle Magazine for Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Dr. Brown often lectures and teaches communication theory and multimedia reporting courses at universities in the greater Washington, D.C. area. Earlier in his distinguished career, Brown worked as a photojournalist and picture editor at the Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune. At the Tribune, Brown shared journalism’s highest honor, the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism for Explanatory Reporting, as a contributing staff member in 2001. One of Dr. Brown’s significant projects included documenting past Negro League players’ lives through narrative interviews, paintings, and photographs. The Indiana native graduated from Morgan State University with a Doctorate in Higher Education Leadership. Brown also earned the Master of Arts degree from Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication and a B.S. in journalism from Ball State University.
3:00-3:30 p.m.: Community Archives and the Black Female Baseball Player, Kate Haines
Community archives are created, maintained and cultivated by the community at large, maintaining the history of the non-dominant population. Traditional archives often focus on a dominant group or perspective, like the National Baseball Hall of Fame collections, but community archives actively seek to have its members collect their own history to maintain representation. Some groups that have been a part of the community archives movement include the Cockettes drag troupe and apartheid survivors. Community archives are essential in places like the women’s baseball community because the general perception of baseball players still tend to be male. Collections often can depict women in baseball, but there are few collections or archives dedicated just to them. When it comes to women of color in baseball, the representation is even worse. Often players like Connie Morgan are lost in the information. A community archive dedicated to the preservation of all women’s baseball history, with a participatory factor to help the collection grow, is essential for keeping stories like hers alive. This allows not only the consciousness of women being involved in baseball, but also allows the expansion of knowledge regarding the plethora of types of women involved in baseball.
Kate Haines is the International Women’s Baseball Center Archivist and an Information Resources Supervisor at the University of Michigan Libraries. She has completed graduate coursework at both the University of Michigan and Marshall University. Starting as a dedicated volunteer with the IWBC, she now uses her education to provide her specialized skills in regards to both sports history and archives.
3:30-4:00 p.m.: Digital Collection Management Resource, Kristi Fane
This submission is a digital collection management resource, developed as a tool for anyone who wishes to curate a Rockford Peaches archive. The mission statement of the project is “to provide entertainment and historically accurate accounts of the real-life All-American Girls Baseball League baseball team of the Rockford Peaches through books, newspaper articles, film and artifacts/memorabilia.” This tool can be seen as the starting place to aid in continued research for the topic of women in baseball. Methods used to assemble were based on established and proven collection development criteria used by professional librarians, archivists and curators. As part of a graduate-level project, the original objective was to assume a fictional partnership between several cultural institutions, using their resources as well as others, to create the end result. The institutions chosen were the Rockford Public Library, Midway Village Museum and the International Women’s Baseball Center. The result is a web-based collection development tool, where said professionals have access to multiple links, spanning diverse disciplines, to aid them in reviewing and selecting resources to put together an archive at leagueofourown.weebly.com.
Kristi Fane is currently the Head of Technical Services at the North Suburban Library District in Loves Park, Illinois. She received her Masters of Library and Information Science from Dominican University in 2014. Her undergraduate degree is in Art History with a concentration in Medieval Studies, which she received in 2009 from Northern Illinois University.
5:00-6:00 p.m. Negro Leagues Centennial Celebration and Pylon Unveil
Video celebration of the Negro Leagues’ Centennial. The celebration will be followed by the announcement of the 2020 Dorothy Seymour Mills Lifetime Achievement Award winner, presented by Perry Barber.
6:30-7:15 p.m.: Doing Women’s Baseball Research discussion, moderated by Leslie Heaphy
Come with your questions about specific projects, general resources, publishing or whatever else you have questions about.
Dr. Leslie Heaphy was first elected to the SABR Board of Directors in 2010 and elected as Vice-President in 2016. She has been a member of SABR since 1989 and chair of the Women in Baseball Committee since 1995. Leslie is an Associate Professor of History at Kent State University at Stark and publishes in the area of the Negro Leagues and women’s baseball. In 2008, she became the founding editor of the journal Black Ball, published by McFarland. She was the 2014 winner of the Bob Davids Award, SABR’s highest honor. She lives in Kent, Ohio.
Sunday, September 13
11:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.: Being a Black Woman is my Superpower, Lonnie Murray, Maacah Scott, and Jacara Ware
Listen to these three women who work in Major League talk about a variety of current topics. Some of the topics include: What inclusion means, the importance of male allies, surviving the game/industry: growth, leadership, a seat at the table, accessibility, overcoming challenges, being Black in baseball — unapologetically YOU!, the importance of mentorship and tips, resources and suggested readings for other women pursuing a career in baseball.
Featured recently on HBO’s Real Sports, Lonnie Murray is the first and currently only black female player agent certified by the MLB Players Association, and one of very few women on that side of the negotiating table. Boasting a roster of over 30 amateur and professional players, Murray has 16 years of experience advising and representing players at all levels of the game. As the President and CEO of Sports Management Partners, Lonnie has made her mark as a highly regarded baseball agent in both the U.S. and international markets.
Maacah Scott is Assistant General Counsel for the Chicago White Sox. Prior to joining the White Sox, Maacah spent six seasons as Associate General Counsel for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Maacah was an Adjunct Professor at Arizona State University, where she taught Ethics and Legal Issues in Sports from 2016 to 2019. Maacah is a founder of WISE Arizona (Women in Sports and Events), whose mission is to empower women in the business of sports to reach their career goals. Maacah has received numerous recognitions, including being recognized on Business Journal’s national list of influential young executives and Phoenix Business Journal’s Top 40 under 40 list.
Jacara “Jay” Ware, MBA, is the Senior Coordinator of Marketing & Advertising for the Arizona Diamondbacks, where she manages the team’s digital platforms and is responsible for all promotional messaging, advertising, media partnerships, and marketing programs. As a council member of the D-backs for Change initiative, she works to ensure alignment of the organization’s business, cultural, community, and diversity and inclusion strategies. Jay founded HeartWare Marketing, LLC in October 2017, combining her passion for elevating brands with her marketing expertise to build a company that showcases the authenticity of her clients. She is actively involved within the Arizona community, serving on the Board of Directors for Women in Sports & Events Arizona (WISE AZ), Linking Sports & Communities, and other groups.
12:00-12:30 p.m.: Breaking the Rules: The Statistical Impact of Rule Changes in the AAGPBL, Leslie C. Morey
The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) represented an interesting social experiment during its 11-year run, one that has been explored in a number of works. However, it was also a fascinating laboratory for the game of baseball itself, by virtue of the rapid evolution of rule changes during those 11 years, and the often-dramatic impact that these changes seemed to have. The initial rules set and structure of the AAGPBL, as supported by then-contemporary accounts, was heavily shaped by assumptions about what women athletes were and were not capable of in the game of baseball. For example, James Henderson, in the 1947 Muskegon Lassies yearbook, made numerous observations about AAGPBL rule differences from men’s baseball that were made necessary by the “limitations” of women. However, these rules evolved rapidly — with nearly all changes resulting in greater similarity to men’s Major League baseball and the statistical performance of AAGPBL players concurrently changed substantially — with increasing similarity to the statistical performance of men’s Major League Baseball. This project examines some of these early assumptions and explores the degree to which correlations between rule changes and variability in league-wide statistical performance challenges those assumptions.
Dr. Leslie Morey is the George T. and Gladys Abell Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Texas A&M University. He has published over 300 articles, books, and chapters on the assessment and diagnosis of personality and mental disorders, and has served as a consultant to numerous agencies and organizations, including the Houston Astros.
1:00-1:30 p.m.: The Nelson Effect, Perry Barber
Maud Nelson had a more than forty-year career in baseball as a player, executive, and entrepreneur dating from the 1890s through the 1930s, but her influence on modern players extends well beyond those decades. My presentation will delve into the “Nelson Effect,” the ways Maud’s career and leadership of many all-girls and women’s teams and leagues during the first half of the twentieth century have affected at least 37 modern-era Major League Baseball players who studied at Arizona State University under the tutelage of one of Maud’s protégés, Margaret Gisolo, who taught tennis and founded the Department of Dance at ASU, where players including Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson took classes with her and applied the skills they learned from her to their baseball exploits. Through archival materials from the ASU library and other sources, including interviews with some of those players, I’ll track the timeline of Maud’s outstanding career and the six-degrees-of-separation that still connects her to the modern major leaguers of today. How many baseball fans today would ever suspect that a woman who came to America as an immigrant girl in the 1890s would go on to create an industry that supported hundreds of girls and women who got to play baseball all over the world and get paid for it, and would wield a largely forgotten influence over the next several generations of female and male baseball players through the women she recruited, trained, and signed? My presentation will clear up these mysteries and give Maud the credit she is due, at long last.
Perry Barber is a longtime professional umpire, author, and promoter of women in baseball. She was the first recipient of SABR’s Dorothy Seymour Mills Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018. She has umpired around the world at every level of the game, including MLB spring training and major-league exhibition games in Japan. She is a board member for the International Women’s Baseball Center and an advisor for Baseball for All. She is also a former Jeopardy! champion, a debutante, and a musician and songwriter who has opened for Bruce Springsteen, Hall and Oates, and Billy Joel.
1:30-2:00 p.m.: “No Tagging Unless You Have the Ball!”: The Depiction of Women in Baseball Digest Cartoons, Callie Batts Maddox
Editorial cartoons are significant cultural texts that communicate socio-political meaning via images and text meant to convey a particular message. Such cartoons regularly appeared in Baseball Digest, currently the longest-running baseball magazine in the United States that was first published in 1942. They commented on a range of issues, from the introduction of television to rising player salaries, that reveal how baseball both shapes, and is shaped by, broader social forces and beliefs. Based on an analysis of all issues of Baseball Digest published between 1942 and 2019, this presentation will consider the depiction of women in these cartoons to reflect on discourses of gender within the male-dominated space of professional baseball in the mid-to-late twentieth century. The images and words that comprise these cartoons articulate powerful messages about gender politics and provide social commentary intended to influence readers via persuasive, and oftentimes humorous, declarations about women’s place in the national pastime. Rather than merely offer entertainment and a few laughs, these cartoons operate as valuable and insightful communicative texts that can help us understand how women’s involvement in baseball was perceived in relation to wider ideologies of gender and sport.
Callie Batts Maddox is an assistant professor in the Department of Sport Leadership and Management at Miami University in Ohio where she teaches classes on the critical socio-cultural study of sport. Her research interests include women’s baseball, the globalization of sport, and American yoga culture.
2:00-2:30 p.m.: Physical Disparities between Elite Male and Female Ball Players, Luisa Gauci
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the major physical disparities and boundaries between elite male and female baseball players and to explore if female baseball players have or will have the ability to contest long-term as part of a Minor or Major League organization. Based on statistics from the 2018 Women’s Baseball World Cup (the pinnacle of women’s baseball), the top four teams’ (Japan, Chinese Taipei, Canada & USA) statistics were averaged and evaluated by speed, arm strength and hitting. These statistics were recorded by analysis from games played at the 2018 Women’s World Cup. Although, in the case of this study, playing statistics were averaged by country not by individual to succinctly identify the playing level of the women. The data that was captured evaluates the current performance of these female athletes at the World Cup — which should be their peak performance — therefore, ensuring that the data collected was of the best quality. To conclude the study, a projection is made of how good female players might be once they are given similar opportunities and if they have the ability to develop as organizational players at a minor or independent league level.
Luisa Gauci is a current collegiate baseball player at West Los Angeles College. Originally from Brisbane, Australia where she worked for the Brisbane Bandits professional baseball team for three seasons. Luisa has been playing baseball for seven years.
2:30-3:00 p.m. MLB Could Do Better, by Jennifer Madison
These are challenging subjects for me to talk about: women in baseball and the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues. There is a story, sometimes cheerful, sometimes very dark and discouraging, behind how I became the first woman president of the Association of Professional Ballplayers of America, the oldest and most venerable baseball assistance program in the country, started in 1924 by Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and other major leaguers. I would love to tell you it has been a joyful, enjoyable rite of passage, but behind the scenes it has been anything but. Chuck Stevens and Dick Beverage gave an astounding 38 and 25 years of their lives to ensure that the players who have needed our assistance were helped no matter what issues they came to us with: financial, physical or emotional. Ninety-nine percent of all the men I work with are kind and respectful. Most APBPA members call me “Miss Jenny” out of respect, because they tell me they are so grateful for my efforts on their behalf. It is the other one percent of baseball men that do horrendous damage to women, including me, and there are several reasons these men are the way they are. What I am going to tell you about is how several other women in baseball stepped up for me when I needed them to, including former IWBC board member and attorney Donna Eden Cohen; umpire Perry Barber, who is our first APBPA Director of Women’s Services; and the first woman player ever eligible to be drafted by MLB, Melissa Mayeaux. All of them, and many others, are working with me to ensure that all women in baseball from now on are safer going forward, and have access to protections, resources, and mentorships. I also want to discuss some recent experiences with MLB’s women in baseball programs, which are not what you’d expect, and in my opinion are damaging and unsupportive to women for several reasons. Regarding the Negro Leagues, I’d love to say that racism isn’t rampant in baseball and our current climate, but it is, and we all have to do better to educate and encourage others to put good hearted, courageous, and hardworking women, particularly Black women and men, in positions of authority. MLB needs encouragement and guidance to bring young Black players back into the game, starting at the neighborhood and youth levels.
Jennifer Madison is the first female president of the Association of Professional Ball Players of America (APBPA.org), a nonprofit that does tremendous good for its members formed in 1924 by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. She has been a successful business technology and marketing coach, event planner, fundraiser, public speaker, podcast host, and encouraging mentor and advocate for those who needed a voice.
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