By Regina Varolli
Friday, May 14, 2010
As part of its growing outreach to women, Major League Baseball will celebrate tennis great Billie Jean King this weekend for her promotion of gender equity in sports. But the Major Leagues still score zero when it comes to its own fielding of women, says one female player.
Steve Arocho, a spokesperson in the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, recently cleared that up with Women's eNews.
No such ban exists, Arocho said. "We had to do a little digging," he said. "But we went to the Baseball Hall of Fame and they did a little research for us. What they found was that there was a memo circulated in 1952 about no women signing contracts, though it didn't rise to become a written rule or regulation for the league."
Brooks, who spent years playing softball before setting her sights on the professional independent baseball leagues, criticizes the league's civil rights weekends for so far overlooking women in baseball such as Perry Lee Barber, an umpire, and Mamie "Peanut" Johnson, an outstanding Negro League player from the 1950s, and Ila Borders, who pitched for the independent Northern League from 1997-1999.
Brooks was drafted by the Big Bend Cowboys of the independent Continental Baseball League this spring but recently left the team fearing that she would have little chance to play since three other players had also been signed to play her position. She is currently seeking a position with another team in the independent leagues.
Regina Varolli is a freelance writer and editor based in Manhattan, and the owner of Words by Regina Varolli and Co. She blogs about food at Culinary Sagacity.
MLB Coverage of the Gillette Civil Rights Game: