Baseball Heroes

The start of the baseball season, however tardy, and a late night chance viewing of the movie “A League of Their Own” got me thinking about the women who achieved so much for little girls of the future who dreamed of playing professional sports. The 600 women who played in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League really were remarkable. I knew a little about them, but not a lot. It was time to do the customary research, and I found out some interesting things. For example, there were ten teams during the League’s existence. The ladies took a charm course, as they did in the movie. The League lasted ten years, and the song the ladies sing, ‘Batter Up, Hear that Call,’ really was the official song of their league. I had always assumed it was written for the movie.

Some years ago, I was lucky enough to meet several of the players at a card show. Dottie Kamenshek, one of the most talented players in the League, talked with me for a bit and signed my cap. She taught me how to properly shape the bill of the cap so that it looked like a true ball cap. All the players there signed a baseball for me. The cap and ball are two of my prized possessions. I knew Dottie Kamenshek was a person I needed to share with my little viewers. I consider Dottie and her fellow players heroes.

My poem for this episode was only about the ladies of the League. But my husband reminded me that there are also plenty of heroes among the men who play pro ball as well. Professional athletes can certainly be heroes because of their talent and skill in their sport. But the ladies of the AAGPBL are heroes to me because they paved the way for girls who came after them and dreamed of playing professionally, no matter the sport. So my standards were pretty high; my sports heroes need to contribute more to the world. My favorite ball player of all time, Roberto Clemente, certainly fits the bill. Clemente was a player I used to tell my students about, mostly for that reason. Through the years I’ve collected Clemente items, cards, caps, etc. This was a man who was a phenomenal player but who was so much more. He was actually killed when his plane went down as he was escorting supplies to a Nicaragua devastated by an earthquake. So obviously I had to include him in my list of baseball heroes. The Roberto Clemente Award was established to recognize baseball players who make a difference in the world in some notable way. The list of winners was a good source of other ball players I could present in our episode. Stan Musial made our list, as did Ozzie Smith, Derek Jeter, and several others. All have started foundations or been very active in charities and worthwhile causes.

Roberto Clemente

It was a pleasure to introduce the little ones to the women of the All American Girls League, and I suspect for most it would truly be an introduction. I think it’s important that they know about those who came before so that they can appreciate them. It was a bonus to be able to tell them about Roberto Clemente and others who, like him, have tried to make the world a better place. It gives our sports heroes a valuable other dimension that elevates them a bit above their sports expertise.

Incidentally, I mistakenly say in the video that Clemente was taking supplies to Puerto Rico when I meant Nicaragua. Clemente was from Puerto Rico, so I tripped over my facts. I know better, of course. He is, after all, my hero. ❤️

Author:

I’m a huge believer in two things: the wisdom and potential of our children and the importance of poetry and imagination in their lives and development. My teaching background is at the high school level, but my methods in the classroom ran high in interaction and whimsy, at least as much whimsy as preparation for state testing allowed. I have four young grandchildren, and I nannied a little boy for over four years from infancy, so I like to think I know children pretty well. And I used poetry to teach and inspire no matter what ages I was called to teach. Poetry takes very big ideas and boils them down to nuggets of wisdom more easily understood. And then there’s the rhyme, such a valuable asset to pre-reading and a great hook to pull the little ones into the poetry itself. The rhythm, cadence, and yes, the rhyme, all have value for kids. Even if the full meaning of the words eludes them a little, there is value in what they do process. I have written and published two books of essays and poetry for teachers, but my greater joy came in writing poetry for children. I began a book of children’s poetry the day my first grandchild Samantha was born and fourteen years later I continue to add to it. I entitled it A Duck in the Sky, which comes from a discussion we had with Sam when she was just a toddler. We were talking about the meaning of life and Sam assured us that the meaning of life was, in fact, a duck in the sky. Fair enough, and a very good title. I never published my children’s book, although that will happen. But in the meantime came Covid and quarantine. I wanted to contribute something, to help entertain young children stuck at home, even if for only a few minutes at a time. So GG Sprinkles was born, someone who reads poetry and entertains with props, demonstrations, etc. Our videos began on a GG Sprinkles Facebook page, and shortly after that became a GG Sprinkles YouTube channel. So we now have quite a few videos available and I continue to write poetry. I have learned a great deal about a lot of topics: fairies, zebras, angels, octopuses, birds, superheroes, blanket forts, dragons, space, buried treasure, planets, burping, puppets, trains, unicorns, kites, magic wands, and so much more. It has been a pure joy to do this for the kids. And, of course, I’m learning so much along the way. We intend to keep the videos coming as long as the poetry comes and the kids and parents are interested. We’d be delighted to have you come along with us as we explore new topics poetically and just have some fun. GG Sprinkles welcomes you to any of the videos you’d like to watch and further thoughts here on my blog. Enjoy!

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