To the parents who thought girls shouldn’t play baseball,
“Don’t get beat by a girl.”
That was the mentality you passed down to your sons simply by the way you treated me. You were the parents of players on the opposing teams. I heard the comments you made and the gossip that went around every time I stepped on the mound.
You wanted me to hear you when you said I didn’t belong. At first, it was not easy when you would shout that I was about to get crushed. You tried to rattle me, but instead, I learned to tune you out because I sure wasn’t going to give up.
I fell in love with the sport of baseball when I was five years old thanks to my dad, who introduced me to the game. By elementary school, I knew the sport would always be a part of my life. As a pitcher, I love taking control and having the command of the game.
Throughout Little League, I got a lot of attention. I made the all-star team each year. Camera crews showed up at games to film me but at times you refused to let your sons be on TV. It was not because you didn’t want them to have the spotlight, but rather because you feared that I would dim their shine. You didn’t want your sons to be embarrassed when I struck them out.
I learned to tune you out because I sure wasn’t going to give up.
While my teammates and their parents supported me, many people through the years tried to convince me to play softball. But why should I switch sports? That’s like asking a tennis player to become a ping pong player. Yes, they have a similar idea but they are not the same game.
I always remained determined to play baseball regardless of the many hurdles in my way.
I wanted to attend a private school in Southern California, but the coaches wouldn’t even let me try out. So, I had to search for a high school that would be open-minded enough to give a girl a chance to play, which I eventually found. While my teammates had my back, there were still times I naturally felt left out. Sometimes, I sat on the bench by myself and that was hard.
Inside jokes didn’t always include me. If I had one bad outing, it was the end of the world for my coaches. I wouldn’t get playing time for weeks. No other player would get benched that long for a subpar performance. But I fought through it.
At 15 years old I finally got a chance to play baseball with women. I became the youngest player on the U.S. Women’s National Team and I won an international award for best pitcher. That was the first time I really felt included and truly a part of a team.
My teammates encountered people just like you. There was and is an unspoken connection between all of us. We all know what it is like to fight for a spot we deserve and to feel like an outcast. The Women’s National Team is truly a collective group, trying to succeed as one.
After high school, I received a scholarship to pitch in college at Montreat College in North Carolina, while still playing with the U.S. National Team. In 2015, the U.S. women won gold at the Pan American games and I led us to the championship game.
Throughout my entire life, you’ve snickered and you’ve doubted me. But instead of holding me back, I have learned to not allow your words or anyone else’s negativity impact me. With your help, I have grown into a strong and independent-minded woman.
I am 26 years old and I still play baseball.
I continue to play with the National Team. I run clinics at a facility and I work part-time at Fenway Park for the Boston Red Sox. Baseball isn’t just part of my life, it’s a part of me.
When I see young girls, who love the sport as much as I do, I warn them about people like you. I tell them not to listen. I tell them to never give up and to stay true to themselves and their passion.
Because the truth of the matter is that no one, not even you, is truly mad that girls are playing baseball. What bothers you is that we are good.
So instead of teaching your sons to fear getting beat by a girl, teach them to respect a good athlete. Because despite your efforts, our population is only getting bigger and our talent is getting even better.
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[…] enough, in the email was your letter to your late father, former NBA basketball star Anthony Mason, talking about your struggles after his death. You wrote […]
Sweet Lauren, I agree completely with the promise that Brian asked you to make. Frankly, it is the only way that I know to love; totally, completely, wholly and unconditionally. You deserve nothing less, nor does your future love.
Wow. What a truly moving and powerful story. We often take for granted the small gifts we give each other just by being present. I'm sad for the heartache. I'm glad you stayed and became. Who knows what little girl or boy will be attributing their life's purpose to some kindness you shared. Peace and Sunshine
You’re welcome Lauren looking forward to all the future stories :)
Thank you Tony. I appreciate all your support.
Thank you Tony. I appreciate all your support.
I’m sorry to hear about Brian but he was right you are too beautiful to not receive roses Lauren:)
[…] Here is why you need to stop being nice and start being loud […]
Thanks for this! So what movie set did you get on?
So nice Roger <3
Pat, Your letter touched me in a very profound way. It left me in tears in the middle of my work day. It made me want to share something with you. On a July morning in 2007 a police officer answered a 911 call I had made when my Mother went into cardiac arrest. Between that officer, my best friend and the fire fighters who showed up minutes later they were able to restart her heart, however at the hospital she passed away an hour later. At the end of his shift that officer stopped by my home to check on the situation and cried when I told him the unfortunate news I received only 4 hours prior. He tried to apologize to me. I looked at the anguish in his eyes and asked him directly what for? He described the ways he felt sorry. What I want to leave you with was my reply to him. I told him he had nothing to be sorry for because he answered the call in what was the darkest moment in my life. I told him that he was a hero regardless because it takes a special person to answer calls like that. You are a hero to people Pat. No one can ever take that away from you. I understand the process you're going through as I've been there myself and like you I still struggle with it when no one is looking. You aren't alone in this. I hope your healing process continues on and you can regain the happiness in this beautiful life. You'll always be a hero to those people, because you were there when the call came Best wishes Roger Chamberlain
Ruth, your letter moved me to tears. Once upon a time I was very closed off about the LGBT community but over a course of several years, I turned my fear into understanding and I actively stand with the community for their equal rights because it is the right thing to do.