This year’s theme – Community Champions – celebrates those pioneers who seek to level the playing field in their own communities. From grassroots efforts through the creation of national and international programs, honor the champions of your community by sharing their stories and learning from their example.
Aurora is a Community Champion. She loves baseball and loves sharing that with others. She always takes the time to help other female players feel more comfortable coming out to play. At the start of this season, while playing catch, she noticed a female opponent at the plate was so scared she was almost in tears. Aurora stopped the game to stand up, look that young lady right in the eye and tell her she deserves to play just like everyone else. She helped calm her opponent and got right back into the game. Aurora hasn’t had it easy without female players in our league to look up to but she has dedicated time to helping other younger females learn to play and stay.
During a family picnic in the Spring of 1974, Robbin heard loud cheers and boos coming from across the park. As a curious 9-year-old, third-grader, Robbin ran over to observe a game of little league baseball being played. After watching the game for a few minutes, Robbin’s interest was piqued to learn how to baseball. The rest is history as Robbin’s first year of playing little league baseball is told as a memoir in her chapter book for girls.
Breaking Barriers: A Girl’s Dream to Play Baseball with Boys follows Robbin’s journey from a spectator to a team player. Through her struggles to fit in, gain respect, and prove her worth, Robbin learns the true meaning of hard work and dedication. With a strong supporting cast of characters, this book is a heartwarming tale of resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity during a time when societal expectations for girls were set in stone without question.
To learn more about Robbin’s story, read Breaking Barriers: A Girl’s Dream to Play Baseball with Boys.
Shirley Burkovich was a former AAGPBL player, who for decades, supported and advocated for girls and women in baseball at events like the Women’s Baseball World Cup, Baseball For All Nationals. or the Red Sox Women’s Fantasy Camp. She was a founding member of the International Women’s Baseball Center and was instrumental in bringing countless events and playing opportunities back to Rockford, where she played professionally in 1951. Everyone who knew her loved her and misses her.
Learn more about Shirley’s life and career in her own words in a 2017 interview with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum: Shirley Burkovich – Sports Stories Baseball
Madie grew up watching baseball. Then once in high school as a freshmen joined the baseball team as the first girl student manager. In the first year learned how to take care of the field to doing the players stats. While only entering sophomore year helped lead the boys to the first conference win which had not happened in over 5 years. With two more years left is studying so she can apply to manage a college baseball team while still over the summer helping manage a travel baseball team.
Bonnie is a leader at every level for girls and women in baseball. She is the driving force behind the Eastern Women’s Baseball Conference and the Director of the Diamond Classic women’s baseball tournament every year in Virginia. Bonnie is also a Head Coach at DC Girls Baseball, running the 10u and 12u programs. Bonnie volunteers with Nationals Youth Academy and is active in the Aspen Institute for Sports and is a key participant in the Diversity initiative at the American Baseball Coaches Association. Bonnie is a one of a kind leader who has left her mark at all levels of baseball.
“She’s a super stats geek in a great way!” Langs grew up in New York, went to the University of Chicago, interned at the New York Daily News and CSN Chicago and then joined ESPN in 2015 as a sports content researcher. She was promoted to senior sports content researcher in 2018 and joined MLB the following year.
Bethany goes above and beyond to bring baseball to the young girls in our community. Making an all girls team “Lil Peaches” who go head to head against boys at every game. Bethany teaches courage and confidence alongside the game. Letting the girls know they can do anything a boy can do! She gives them a team to feel comfortable on and be themselves. Without Bethany there wouldn’t be an all girls team available to my daughter and for that we are so thankful.
“Aunt” Mary Dobkin, a physically handicapped woman living in Baltimore in the 1940s. Dobkin was concerned that juvenile delinquency was destroying her neighborhood. She organized the “Dobkin Dynamiters,” a baseball team comprised of disadvantaged and minority children. A loving but strict coach, she was responsible for several firsts in the coaching industry: the first woman to coach little league in Baltimore, the first coach to integrate a baseball team (1950), and the first to put a girl on an all-boys team (1960).
Josephine established the first boys’ baseball league in America. Her city—and the country—was watching. Beyond all expectations, the Cleveland Indians rallied behind her project. Indians legends Bob Feller, Jeff Heath, and Roy Weatherly helped hone the boys’ skills; renowned sports reporter Hal Lebovitz became an umpire; and they were given permission to play in historic League Park. All the while, as Josephine’s Little Indians graduated into the Junior American and Junior National Leagues, and finally a Little World Series, she instilled in her boys strong values, good sportsmanship, and an unprecedented sense of accomplishment. Some of them, like Ray Lindquist and Jack Heinen, would become Minor League players. Not one of Mrs. Morhard’s boys would ever forget her. Read more about Josephine’s extraordinary work in Mrs. Morhard and the Boys.
Seeing the new play of Toni Stone and watching her character reflected in A League of Their Own’s Max Chapman gave me a whole new appreciation for what this woman accomplished and endured in her time. An American hero if there ever was one, I salute Toni Stone during Women in Baseball Week for embodying the true spirit of Community Champion and inspiring girls decades later.
Abbi Jacobson & Will Graham
A League of Their Own not only told a great baseball story, but did so in a more honest and historically accurate way. This led to the birth of a whole new community and family for me. I thank Will Graham and Abbi Jacobson for that.
Maybelle Blair is such an inspiration. She means so much to so many of us. Probably more than she will ever realize. Dirt in the skirt, Maybelle!
Po Chun Liu
Po Chun Liu is a great example of a female pioneer in baseball. She deserves every award possible and every day changes the landscape for women athletes, particularly in baseball, ESPECIALLY for umpires, all around the world.
Cami Kidder Divine
She has been the main fuel behind my constant engagement in the game of baseball and most especially girl baseball in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana-Africa. I can confidently say am the only trainer in my country with a girls baseball players in schools and the communities and these girls can play very well. She has not given up in seeking opportunities to have some of the girls display their talent on the international platforms.
SARA ROSE THIBAUT
Being the only female on the field has always been a part of Sara Rose’s baseball journey. With 24 years in the game, she’s still trying to normalize and shatter the stereotypical vision many people still have of who wears a uniform and what they are contributing to the game. Sara Rose moved into an all men’s league after high school and quickly started her own team in that league with true coed goals for her team. Her 1st female recruit was Tamara Holmes, who still plays for her team and after 5 years, they now have 4 female players and a female GM. Sara Rose has also been a baseball Coach at the local high school for 3 years where she has been shaking up the game by being the winning coach for the entire freshman league. Her presence on the field has created the conversation among fans and coaches alike, all asking her questions about her career on the field and how excited they are to see her out there. Normalizing the vision of females on the field, shattering stereotypes and encouraging other females to follow their dreams is everyday business for Sara Rose THIBAUT, a true leader for females in the game.
Doris Hocking is the creator of Women’s Baseball-UK, which promotes more women into the sport across the United Kingdom. She is responsible for this organization growing into a multi-team league nationwide and the creation of Great Britain’s first women’s national team, which now competes in international tournaments. Overall, she is known worldwide for being a trailblazer and as someone who has given tirelessly of herself to make baseball more inclusive.
Philly Girls Baseball
Thank you for giving more opportunities to local girls to pursue any sport they want to play and encouraging them to be whatever they want to be. Learn more about this extraordinary program at Philly Girls Baseball.
Barbara’s books, particularly Women at Play: The Story of Women in Baseball, opened up a whole world to me. She is a gifted writer whose talent for researching and crafting historical narrative is both accessible and motivation to her readers. Ultimately, her writing has set me on a lifelong journey I never anticipated, but I am so grateful for it.