JUNIOR SARA TOBIAS is an outfielder on the Middlebury College softball team. As shown here playing in the 2016 World Cup competition, she is also a baseball pitcher who has played on the USA National Women’s Baseball Team in international competitions.
Photo courtesy of Sara Tobias
This three-part series on Women in Baseball was supposed to be just a two-parter: one on women in the front offices of Major League Baseball and another on women actually on the field playing baseball.
In the baseball course I taught at Middlebury College (“Baseball, Literature, and American Culture”), we always had a two-week segment on women in the game in which we read some wonderful writing by women on baseball and were introduced to the history of females playing the sport.
Retired now, I haven’t taught that course for a long time and have realized I am not up to date. Opportunities for...
TONI STONE PLAYED second base in 1953 for the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League, replacing Henry Aaron who left for the Milwaukee Braves. She is the subject of an excellent biography, “Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone” by Martha Ackmann.
Painting by Graig Kreindler from the archives of NegroLeaguesHistory.com
Second in a series
Just a few weeks after Kim Ng was hired by the Miami Marlins to run their team as the general manager, the Red Sox hired Bianca Smith to be the first Black woman to coach in the major leagues and the second woman overall:
Yes, those Red Sox, who for generations have had to live down the ignominy of being the last team to put a Black player on the field.
Like Ng, Smith is eminently qualified for this position despite her youth (she’s 30). A graduate of Dartmouth, she played on both the softball team and the club baseball team there. She earned a dual M.A. degree in business...
EFFA MANLEY, PRESIDENT of the Newark Eagles in the Negro American League in the 1930s and ’40s, was part of a “men’s club” in the world of professional sports. Here she is seen seated between Negro league star Josh Gibson (right) and Gus Greenlee (left), powerful owner of the Pittsburgh Crawfords.
Photo Credit NoirTech Research Inc.
The first in a series.
This has been a good year for women in baseball.
That’s a sentence that could not have been written before this year. This year is different and may mark a turning point in women’s participation in the Grand Old Game.
The hiring of Kim Ng (pronounced Ang) as the general manager of the Miami Marlins is a big deal and really does shatter a glass ceiling: She is the first woman in the long history of the game to serve in the crucial role of GM.
Most Major League Baseball teams today have a woman, or two, in senior positions, but on the business side, in marketing,...
PHOTOGRAPH BY MARTHA Lentz: “Capturing the light, freezing moments in time, simplifying the chaos, balancing the business — this is what I seek. Shadows, reflections, fog, angles of sun, nature’s beauty — this is where I find it.”
I am not a winter person. I don’t like winter. Never have. I have lived in Maine or Vermont nearly my whole life. That’s probably why I don’t like it: pure Yankee obstinacy. I don’t want to live anywhere else though, even in winter.
Winter is winter in Vermont, but not all winters are the same. Some are better than others and this has been just about the best one I can remember. It has been a pandemic blessing, a beautiful winter, with plenty of snow for skiers, cold enough weather for making snow and keeping it on the ground, but not brutally cold temperatures, below zero . . .
THE RINK IN the center of the Middlebury College campus was set up in 1980 as an antidote to a winter of bad skiing conditions.
Photo courtesy of Middlebury College Archives
Driving down Route 125, College Street, as I do most days, I noticed a temporary structure had gone up in the middle of the Middlebury College campus.
It’s a “winterized tent” where “students can hang out” in this pandemic-compromised winter, with an adjacent skating rink. As President Laurie Patton explained in the Independent on Feb. 18: “We are embracing cold weather and everything wonderful about Vermont.”
Do the students making use of this space for social and recreational purposes understand they are on historic, if not hallowed, college ground?
The scene transports me back to the...
PITCHER DAVE DRAVECKY pitched eight years in the Majors for the Padres and the Giants. His career came to an end at Stade Olympique in a game in Montreal in August 1989.
I have attended, in person, thousands of baseball games, many thousands, but one stands out in high relief: This game was the most dramatic I have witnessed in any sport ever.
As I mentioned in this space a couple months ago, my wife Brett worked for the San Francisco Giants for three-and-a-half seasons, 1983-86, when she was in graduate school — that’s over 300 games. She ran the message board in Candlestick Park, the only woman in the press box.
She came to teach at Middlebury in ’86, and our mutual interest in baseball was not incidental to our relationship. Her Giants came to Montreal...
NANCY GADEN, THEN, as an 18-year-old freshman, shoots a foul shot in a Middlebury College women’s basketball game in 1980. Gaden averaged nearly 30 points a game that season and set a single-game scoring record with a 52-point game.
Photo/Middlebury College Archives
This is the story of Nancy Gaden, basketball player extraordinaire.
Before we tell of Nancy’s accomplishments, let’s set the context: if you look at the record book in women’s basketball at Middlebury College, one woman dominates: Sladja Kovijanic, ’93.
Sladja is without question the best women’s basketball player ever at Middlebury in the nearly half century Middlebury women have played the game seriously.
She was spectacular, one of the very few best players in all of DIII NCAA hoops at the time. In 1993, she led the country in scoring with an average of 30.9. Let’s pause for a minute...
DEE ROWE (MIDDLEBURY College 1952) pictured in 2015 in a familiar position at the lectern in the classroom in the Kenyon Arena, where he presided for 17 Winter Terms, teaching a course on coaching. According to the Boston Globe obituary his “calling cards” were a “genial spirit, a bone-deep sense of loyalty, and an infectious love of the game (basketball).” He died Jan. 10 at 91.
Photo courtesy of Brad Nadeau, Middlebury Athletics
Donald “Dee” Rowe, Middlebury College, class of 1952, died at age 91 on January 10. Dee was a major figure in basketball circles in New England and nationally: his obituary in the Boston Globe called him “the ebullient lodestar to a constellation of New England basketball coaches and players.” Dee spent five decades in the athletic department at the University of Connecticut, first as a successful coach at the highest D-I level and later as a Special Adviser for Athletics. In 2017 he received the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award from the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
CATCHER QUINCY TROUPPE, left, and pitcher Sam “Toothpick” Jones in 1952 were the first Black battery (pitcher and catcher) in Major League Baseball. Trouppe and Jones also played for the Cleveland Buckeyes of the Negro American League. Jones was the first Black pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the Major Leagues, pitching for the Chicago Cubs in 1955.
Photo courtesy of the Cleveland Memory Project
“The Yankees cannot lose.”
“But I fear the Indians of Cleveland.”
(“The Old Man and the Sea,” Ernest Hemingway, 1956)
The Indians are my second favorite baseball team — and have been since I was a baseball-obsessed kid.
I grew up next door to my five cousins. My cousin Charlie, the boy nearest in age to me, and I played a game in his ample back yard we called simply “tennis ball.” We inherited the game from his older brothers.
It was just one on one, pitcher and hitter, with a wall as a backstop. If you get an old worn out (no fuzz) tennis ball, you can curve...
KATE PERINE, KATE LIVESEY now, with her proud parents, Ken and Carolyn, sports No. 10 while holding the NCAA Division III Lacrosse Championship trophy that she and her Middlebury College teammates won in 2002. “10” was her favorite number in her years as a three-sport athlete at Middlebury Union High School and at Middlebury College.
The best uniform number in sports is 42, Jackie Robinson’s number. It’s been retired by Major League Baseball — no MLB player will ever wear it again. That’s a high honor, the highest. The Jackie Robinson movie was simply titled “42.”
If you reverse 42 you get a pretty great number too — 24, the number of Willie Mays, only the greatest baseball player ever. Basketball fans, no doubt, will cite Kobe Bryant, but he also wore #8 for a while. Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds (Willie Mays’s godson), Bill Bradley, Lou Brock, are other notables who wore 24. For me, given my age and New England roots, 24...