Breaking into Baseball

Breaking into Baseball


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While baseball is traditionally perceived as a game to be played, enjoyed, and reported from a masculine perspective, it has long been beloved among women—more so than any other spectator sport. Breaking into Baseball: Women and the National Pastime upends baseball’s accepted history to at last reveal just how involved women are, and have always been, in the American game.

Through provocative interviews and deft research, Jean Hastings Ardell devotes a detailed chapter to each of the seven ways women participate in the game—from the stands as fans, on the field as professionals or as amateur players, behind the plate as umpires, in the front office as executives, in the press box as sportswriters and reporters, or in the shadows as Baseball Annies. From these revelatory vantage points, Ardell invites overdue appreciation for the affinity and talent women bring to baseball at all levels and shows us our national game anew.

From its ancient origins in spring fertility rituals through contemporary marketing efforts geared toward an ever-increasing female fan base, baseball has always had a feminine side, and generations of women have sought—and been sought after—to participate in the sport, even when doing so meant challenging the cultural mores of their era. In that regard, women have been breaking into baseball from the very beginning. But recent decades have witnessed great strides in legitimizing women’s roles on the diamond as players and umpires as well as in vital management and media roles. In her thoughtfully organized and engagingly written survey, Ardell offers a chance for sports enthusiasts and historians of both genders to better appreciate the storied and complex relationship women have so long shared with the game and to glimpse the future of women in baseball.

Breaking into Baseball is augmented by twenty-four illustrations and a foreword from Ila Borders, the first woman to play more than three seasons of men’s professional baseball.

Jean Hastings Ardell frequently writes and lectures on women’s contributions to baseball. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Sporting News, Elysian Fields Quarterly, Nine: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture, and in the anthologies Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend: Women Writers on Baseball and Growing Up with Baseball: How We Loved and Played the Game. In 1999, she earned the Society for American Baseball Research/USAToday Baseball Weekly Award for Research for her article, “Lefthander Ila Borders: Crossing Baseball’s Gender Line from Little League to the Northern League.” Ardell lives in Corona Del Mar, California, with her husband, a former first baseman for the Anaheim Angels.
“In her impressive and interesting book, Jean Hastings Ardell has written the definitive account of women’s roles in baseball. Ardell has uncovered a mostly hidden trove of information—baseball’s own feminine mystique. Her book is a must read, especially for those who believe (erroneously) they know all there is to know about baseball.”—Marvin Miller, founding director of the Major League Baseball Players Association and author of AWhole Different Ball Game: The Inside Story of the Baseball Revolution

“At last! Incontrovertible proof that women have been a crucial, integral part of baseball from its sticks-and-stones prehistory right up to today. Ardell’s sharp insights on women as players, owners, umpires, and fans—on sex, money, power, feminism, and the role Baseball Annies played in baseball’s long ban of black ballplayers—make this book essential for anyone who cares about baseball, women, or fairness.”—Elinor Nauen, editor of Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend: Women Writers on Baseball
“Ardell is a major league writer, and this book is proof that she belongs in the starting lineup. Breaking into Baseball explores relationships between women and baseball in ways heretofore neglected or ignored. It is, at once, imaginative, provocative, nuanced, and empowering.”—Steve Gietschier, senior managing editor of the Sporting News“Comprehensively researched and beautifully written, Breaking into Baseball tells the complex story of women and the national pastime in a compelling fashion. Ardell approaches her subject matter with passion, bringing to life the experiences of a host of women involved with every aspect of the game, in a way that is intellectually satisfying and extremely entertaining.”—Roberta Newman, New York University

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Dimensions 1 × 6 × 9 cm