13 year old Mo'ne Davis became a sports sensation last year when she pitched a shutout to lead her team to a Little League World Series victory. Mo'ne also got a lot of attention as one of only two girls who took part in the 2014 series. Young women have always been compelled to play baseball. They've had the talent, but they haven't always been welcomed.
Modern women have persevered to earn respect at a time. Author and scholar Jennifer Ring chronicles their stories in her new book A Game of Their Own: Voices of Contemporary Women in Baseball. Ring is also a professor of political science at the University of Nevada. She brought her daughter, Lilly Jacobson, a former right fielder and power hitter for the women's national baseball team.
Here is an excerpt of our conversation:
When you talk about women in baseball, everyone goes back to the "bloomers" era, but we don't talk about the women who are playing now because they are often invisible. Tell me why that is.
JENNIFER RING: We want them to play soft ball. We have a sport that is a "separate but equal" sport for them. I can't account for the insistence on sex segregation. I think America has claimed baseball as its national pass time, and a national pass time should be manly. It's the money. It's the symbolism. But when I say I'm writing about women and baseball, everyone says "oh you mean the World War II leagues? A League of Their Own?" No, I mean women who play now and these 11 women who are chronicles in my book, I did their oral histories because I watched them play. They're Lilly's teammates, and they are the most exciting baseball players I've seen. I'd rather watch them play then watch major league games. I just thought their stories had to be told.
Lilly, why were you so interested in baseball?
LILLY JACOBSON : I think it's one of those innate things. People have passions and loves and they have natural talents. And I just loved playing baseball. And I wanted to work at it. I wanted to get better, and I wanted to do something with it.