2022 SABR/IWBC Women in Baseball Conference schedule

SABR/IWBC Women in Baseball Conference logo

Here is the schedule of events, along with presenter bios and abstracts, for the fourth annual SABR/IWBC Women in Baseball Conference, which will be held virtually on Zoom on September 16-18, 2022. The conference is open to all baseball fans.

Note: All times listed are in Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).

Friday, September 16 | Saturday, September 17 | Sunday, September 18

Friday, September 16

6:30-6:45 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 the organization in 2018 after serving as the Senior Vice President for Business Development with the Goldklang Group. Since graduating from the University of Minnesota, Bush 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.

6:45-8:00 p.m.: Virtual Social Hour
Join us for a social hour — bring your favorite beverage and let’s spend some time socializing, with trivia and prizes!

Saturday, September 17

10:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.: Callie Batts Maddox, “Baseball in the Sport for Development and Peace Movement: Promises and Potentials for Gender Equality”

Building on the celebration of Title IX and other significant anniversaries in the history of women’s sport and baseball, this presentation will highlight an often overlooked and evolving aspect of baseball culture and history—its use as a tool for community and personal development in various cultural contexts. The sport for development and peace (SDP) movement blossomed a decade ago as a novel way to pursue international development goals such as reducing poverty, increasing access to education, combating malaria and HIV/AIDS, and promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. While soccer is arguably the most popular sport utilized within SDP programs, baseball is increasingly being used as a means for achieving cultural understanding and gender equality in the context of SDP. Baseball, as Maddox will argue, is uniquely situated in the SDP movement to promote gender equality because in many cultural contexts it lacks the assumed gendered expectations and connotations that mark it as a sport solely for boys and men in the United States. Drawing on the author’s experiences working with Play Global, a non-profit SDP organization focused on baseball, Maddox will discuss the promises and potentials of grassroots baseball to foster gender equality and encourage more girls and women to play within the wider SDP movement.

Callie Batts Maddox is an assistant professor in the Department of Sport Leadership & Management at Miami University. Her teaching and research focus on the critical sociocultural study of sport and physical activity, with particular interest in women’s baseball, the globalization of sport, and American yoga culture. She currently serves as a member of the board of directors for Play Global, a non-profit organization using baseball as a tool for community development, conflict resolution, and gender equality.

10:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m.: Leslie Heaphy, “A Brief Survey of the International Game”

A presentation highlighting key developments in women’s baseball on the international scene. The focus will not be just on tournament play but what is also happening at the local and community level. Where is the game being played? Who is taking part? What kind of support are the players receiving?

Leslie Heaphy is an Associate Professor of History at Kent State University at Stark. She is the Vice President of SABR’s Board of Directors and serves on the board of the IWBC. Her research and publications revolve around the history of the Negro Leagues, women’s baseball, and the New York Mets.

11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.: Baseball Journalism Panel with Claire Smith, Shakeia Taylor, and Jen McCaffrey, moderated by Melissa Isaacson

Claire Smith became the first woman to win the prestigious BBWAA Career Excellence Award, honoring meritorious contributions to baseball writing, in 2017 and she was recognized during the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Induction Weekend that summer. She is a co-director of the Claire Smith Center for Sports Media at Temple University. She was the first female African American newspaper reporter to cover Major League Baseball on a daily basis, beginning with the Hartford Courant and later as the national baseball columnist for the New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer. She was a coordinating editor for ESPN’s universal news group from 2007 to 2020. Among her many honors are the Association for Women in Sports Media’s Mary Garber Pioneer Award and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum’s Sam Lacy Legacy Award.

Shakeia Taylor is a Deputy Senior Content Editor at the Chicago Tribune and a Chicago-based baseball historian. She hosts a live virtual monthly event, SABR’s Ballpark Figures, where she interviews interesting figures from throughout the baseball world. Her work has appeared at SB Nation, FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus, MLB.com, Yahoo! Sports, and other outlets. She was a recipient of the 2021 SABR Analytics Conference Research Award for historical baseball analysis/commentary.

Jen McCaffrey is a staff writer for The Athletic covering the Boston Red Sox. Prior to joining The Athletic, the Syracuse graduate spent four years as a Red Sox reporter for MassLive.com and three years as a sports reporter for the Cape Cod Times.

Melissa Isaacson is an assistant professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. A sportswriter for more than 30 years, she was named among the 20 “Most Influential Women in Chicago sports media” by the Chicago Tribune in 2022. She worked most recently for ESPN in its international division, covering a variety of beats from the Olympic Games to professional tennis. In 19 years at the Tribune, she was the principal beat writer covering the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in the 1990s and later the Chicago Bears for seven seasons, the first woman in both of those roles. She was also on the staffs of Florida Today, USA Today, and the Orlando Sentinel, where she received AP Sports Editors awards for beat writing, investigative and feature reporting.

12:15 p.m.-1:30 p.m.: Lunch Break

1:30 p.m.-2:00 p.m.: Kate Haines, “Shirley Burkovich: Pioneer, Activist, Trailblazer”

Shirley Burkovich was the perfect example of women’s baseball, as a pioneer, activist, and trailblazer, she dedicated much of her life to making sure the love of the game she felt could be properly celebrated and felt by other girls and women. Gone too soon, Shirley encapsulated “where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re headed” and that should be recognized, celebrated, and remembered as the movement surges ahead. From playing within the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, to speaking about her experiences and advocating for the International Women’s Baseball Center, Shirley captured the true meaning of the game and the love she held for it, that lives within the memories of others. Looking at the work she left behind and the memories she left others that ignited their own passion, Burkovich witnessed many women’s baseball milestones and work will be continued in her name with her passion.

Kate Haines (they/them) is the International Women’s Baseball Center Archivist and Digital Content Producer, currently serving as an IWBC Board Member, and an Information Resources Senior Supervisor at the University of Michigan Libraries. They have completed graduate coursework at both the University of Michigan and Marshall University. Starting as a dedicated volunteer with the IWBC, they now use their education to provide their specialized skills in regard to both sports history and archives.

2:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m.: Ed Edmonds, “Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women v. National Collegiate Athletics Association”

When Title IX was passed in 1972, the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW), established the year before, governed women’s sports at US colleges and universities. During 1971-1972, the AIAW sponsored seven national champions for 278 member institutions. By 1980-1981, spurred by Title IX’s impact, the number of AIAW members had grown to 961. AIAW institutions were typically led by a separate women’s athletic departments with women serving as coaches for most teams. However, during the 1981-1982 academic year, the NCAA launched a “hostile takeover” by creating 29 championships for women in 12 sports. The result was a significant loss of members for the AIAW, the participation of those programs in AIAW events, and television broadcasting of championship events by NBC. On October 9, 1981, the AIAW filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA in federal court claiming that the NCAA was using its monopoly power over major men’s intercollegiate athletics to destroy the AIAW and assume similar control over women’s intercollegiate athletics.

Ed Edmonds is a Professor Emeritus of Law at the Notre Dame Law School. He taught a sports law seminar for over thirty-five years including classes on gender equity. His major scholarly interests are labor and antitrust issues and salary arbitration in baseball. He is the co-author of a book on baseball and the law and a frequent speaker at the NINE Spring Training Conference and the Cooperstown Symposium. His email address is edmonds.7@nd.edu.

2:30 p.m.-3:00 p.m.: Lauren McNulty, “But We Can’t Forget About the Differences: Baseball and America’s Obsession with Sex Segregation”

Sex segregation in skill sports, especially baseball, is an effect not of biological differences, but rather of continued discrimination against women. The modern origin of this coercive sex segregation can be traced to industrialization and urbanization in American cities. Now, with Victorian-era beliefs of women’s inferiority categorically disproven, it is striking how much we as a culture still believe in the myth of necessary sex segregation. Sports have been segregated for so long now, that it has led to the normalization of the idea that women are incapable of competing with and against men. Segregation has become something we “need,” making it inherently difficult to change. There are consequences to this mentality, namely that stereotypes have endured in the cultural consciousness while being disproved in academic literature and the fact that sports are still considered a separate but equal environment.

Lauren McNulty has a bachelor’s degree in English from Kenyon College and a master’s degree in Kinesiology from California State University East Bay. She has coached high school baseball since 2011 and is also the head coach of a girls baseball program where the goal is to integrate local little leagues and high school teams.

3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.: Discussion on Amazon Prime’s new A League of Their Own TV series, moderated by Kat Williams

4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.: Break

6:30 p.m.-7:45 p.m.: Keynote Panel: Justine Siegal, Maybelle Blair and Sarah Domin

Justine Siegal continues to promote and advocate for women’s participation in baseball every day. She is the founder of Baseball for All, a nonprofit organization that has made it possible for thousands of girls from all over the world to play baseball with and against each other. She earned her Ph.D. in Sport and Exercise Psychology, giving her another tool to use in working with all players. She has coached at the collegiate level, pitched batting practice for several Major League Baseball teams, served as a coach for the Brockton Rox, and as an instructional coach for the Oakland A’s. (She donated her jersey to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.) She also worked with Team Israel during the 2017 World Baseball Classic and served as a coach in Japan and Mexico in 2019. She is currently the Baseball Coordinator for the Amazon Prime show A League of Their Own.

Maybelle Blair was already an accomplished softball player when she joined the Peoria Redwings of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League for one season in 1948. She left the league the following year to play professional softball in Chicago. The Texas native then moved to California, where she attended Compton Junior College and then the LA School of Physiotherapy. After working at a treatment center in Los Angeles, she changed fields and began a 37-year career at Northrop Corporation, ending up as one of only three female managers at Northrop. After retirement, she became vice president of CELS, Central Extended Learning for Seniors, a program provider for Elderhostel. At 95 years old, she is actively involved in fundraising and publicity efforts for AAGPBL reunions and the IWBC. She recently made a cameo and serves as a consultant on the new Amazon Prime show, A League of Their Own.

Sarah Domin is a freshman at West Genesee High School in New York, where she became the first girl in school history to play for the baseball team. She is a junior co-captain of Baseball for All, a nonprofit that creates opportunities for girls to play, coach and lead in the sport.

7:45 p.m.-8:00 p.m.: Pylon Unveiling

8:00 p.m.-8:15 p.m.: Dorothy Seymour Mills Lifetime Achievement Award announcement

Sunday, September 18

11:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m.: Tom Alesia, “Dave Bancroft: Manager in the AAGPBL”

Which Hall of Famer managed the most games in the AAGPBL? Max Carey, right? Or, um, Jimmie Foxx? It’s Dave Bancroft, who spent nearly four full seasons with the inaugural Chicago team, South Bend Blue Sox and Battle Creek Belles. Bancroft, a 15-year star shortstop who played in four World Series, also guided an American women’s team on a historic two-month Central and South American tour in winter 1949.

Bancroft’s association with women’s baseball didn’t begin when he coached AAGPBL teams in his late 50s and early 60s. As a teen in his Sioux City, Iowa, hometown, Bancroft played several times against the Boston Bloomers.

With Chicago, South Bend and Battle Creek from 1948-1951, Bancroft served as a strong advocate for women’s baseball with his players and among the national press. The author’s new book, Beauty at Short: Dave Bancroft, the Most Unlikely Hall of Famer and His Wild Times in Baseball’s First Century, is a popular and acclaimed hit that features two chapters devoted to his work and adventures in the AAGPBL.

Learn how a protege of fiery John McGraw and four-year player-manager in Boston dealt with female players and how he was influenced by the support of his wife, Edna, of 60-plus years. A Superior, Wisconsin, resident his whole adult life, Bancroft became a Hall of Famer in 1971 at age 80. He died one year later — almost exactly 50 years after this fall’s conference and 100 years after his second World Series title with the New York Giants.

Tom Alesia is the author of two books: Then Garth Became Elvis, a collection of his interviews with country music stars, and the popular new biography, Beauty at Short: Dave Bancroft, the Most Unlikely Hall of Famer and His Wild Times in Baseball’s First Century. A SABR member, Alesia worked as a newspaper entertainment writer/editor for nearly 30 years before becoming a teaching assistant at a suburban Madison middle school in 2016.

11:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.: Eric Berg, “Mabel Holle and the AAGPBL”

Mable Holle’s attendance at a private liberal arts college was the primary force that launched her into her baseball career. This unique experience as a young adult equipped her with a specific set of skills learned in and out of the classroom, to play in the AAGPL. Holle, born in 1920, graduated from MacMurray College in 1942, and soon after graduation, Holle became one of the of first 60 players in the All American Girls Baseball League playing for the South Bend Blue Sox and the Kenosha Comets. In 1944 Holle signed a contract with the rival National Girls Baseball League of Chicago and played there for the next two seasons. Rising from central Illinois, a hotbed of baseball since the late 19th century, Holle presents an illuminating case study for those persons that have a certain set of challenges (sex, gender, fly-over land) and also a specific set of advantages (white, affluent, strong family, skilled) who desire to play baseball at the highest level and find a way.

Eric Berg is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Bemidji State University in Minnesota. Previously, he taught philosophy for 15 years at MacMurray College in Illinois. He holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Kansas. He continues to play townball for the Bloomington Canaries.

12:00 p.m.-1:15 p.m.: Umpires Panel with Perry Barber, Sophiyah Liu, and Alessia Cicconi

Perry Barber is a longtime professional umpire, author, and promoter of women in baseball. She was the inaugural winner of the SABR Dorothy Seymour Mills Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018 and was recently inducted into the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame. She has umpired at all levels of the game, including Major League Baseball’s spring training and around the world to places such as Japan, Guam, Hong Kong, and the Caribbean. She is also a Jeopardy! champion, accomplished musician, and author. She conducts umpire clinics, speaks about umpiring and women’s baseball, and serves as a board member for the International Women’s Baseball Center and an advisor for Baseball for All.

Sophiyah Liu is the first Taiwanese woman to become an international baseball umpire. She is a keen baseball fan with a background in social work and religious studies who has worked as an interpreter for the New York Yankees and the Australian national team. Since 2006, she has umpired for WBSC tournaments in Venezuela, South Korea, and Hong Kong. She has published five books about her experiences, including Safe & Out: The Courage of Persistence and Introspect: How Baseball Teaches Us About Frustration and Attitude, and her story inspired the documentary film, She Is An Umpire.

Alessia Cicconi is an umpire from Italy.

1:15 p.m.-2:15 p.m.: Twenty-First Century Baseball Research: Much More Than Box Scores

Allison R. Levin is an Associate Professor of Sports Communication at Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri. She is on the Board of Directors of the Society for American Baseball Research and serves in an advisory role for the NINE Spring Training Conference. Her research explores the intersection of sports, pop culture, and fandom. A firm believer that anything you find fascinating is worth researching, Allison’s research runs the gamut from quantitative examinations of how prediction systems perform year-to-year to qualitative studies of player walk-up music. She can be found on Twitter @consultsnaps.

Roberta J. Newman is a Clinical Professor of Liberal Studies at New York University where she teaches courses in global sports with a focus on race, gender and national identities, global advertising, and global humanities. Her research focuses on the intersections of baseball, the media, business, and popular culture. Her most recent book, Here’s the Pitch: the Amazing, True, New, and Improved Story of Baseball and Advertising (2019), was the recipient of the 2020 SABR Baseball Research Award, among other honors. She is also co-author of Black Baseball, Black Business: Race Enterprise and the Fate of the Segregated Dollar (2014). Her work has appeared in NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture, Cooperstown Symposium volumes, The National Pastime, Baseball Research Journal, and other publications. She is currently in the early stages of a project investigating East Asian baseball and advertising.

Laura Furman is the Chief Curator of Collections and Education at the Midway Village Museum in Rockford, Illinois, where she is

Moderator: Catherine Forslund is a Professor of History and Women’s Studies and chair of the History and International Studies Department at Rockford University in Illinois. She is the author of Anna Chennault: Informal Diplomacy and Asian Relations. She holds a Ph.D. and master’s degree in modern United States and US diplomatic history from Washington University in St. Louis, and a bachelor’s degree in modern European history from the University of Illinois.

2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.: Book Club Discussion: Baseball’s Leading Lady: Effa Manley

Author Andrea Williams will join the group to talk about her book on Hall of Fame executive Effa Manley.

Click here to go back to the Women in Baseball Conference main page.