Sunday, October 18, 2009

Baseball: Winds of Change

Nobody will confuse Little League with the baseball playoffs going on now, but I thought a little "herstory" might be in order: 

From This Week, 9/21/09

Huron ninth grade student, Courtney Ziemba, was filmed playing baseball last week as part of an HBO documentary about Carolyn King, the first girl to play Little League baseball in the Ypsilanti-American Little League team soon after the Title IX law was passed.  Courtney plays second base and pitches for this same team.  The movie is scheduled for release in the spring of 2010.
(I have written about This Week before. It is good news (a brag sheet, if you will) of news in the AAPS district. Here is the link to it.)

From the Ypsilanti Little League web site:

The Ypsilanti American Little League was founded in 1953 and is the oldest Little League in Michigan. In addition, our Little League was the first in the world to include a female player. When Little League was founded in 1939, girls were not allowed to participate, but that changed in 1973 when Carolyn King of Ypsilanti played in our league.

A June 4, 1973 article in Time Magazine tells the story. “When Outfielder Carolyn King, 12, tried out for the Orioles, an Ypsilanti, Mich., Little League baseball team, she beat out 15 boys and qualified for a starting position. Not long afterward, Little League headquarters in Williamsport, Pa., cited its rule barring girls from league teams and threatened to withdraw the Orioles' charter. Ypsilanti's city councilmen issued a counterthreat: if Carolyn did not play, they would cut off city support for the league and bar it from public ballfields. After some soul-searching, the Orioles decided to let Carolyn play. Promptly, national headquarters made good on its threat and withdrew the Orioles' charter. Last week, just as promptly, the city council voted 10-0 to file suit in federal court charging violation of the U.S. Constitution. No verdict is likely for weeks.”

Ultimately the US Division of Civil Rights ordered Little League to drop its boys-only policy, and in 1974, Little League revised its rules to allow girls to compete. Girls worldwide now enjoy Little League thanks to Carolyn and our league! Carolyn joined us again to throw out the ceremonial first pitch during our 50th & 56th Anniversary Opening Day Ceremonies.

Watch May 11, 1973 national news coverage from CBS & NBC, as well as footage of Carolyn throwing the 2009 ceremonial first by selecting video links below.
      1973 CBS National News:
      1973 NBC National News:
      2009 Ceremonial First Pitch:

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