We would like to extend a very big thank you to everyone who came out for the International Women’s Baseball Center’s (IWBC) second-annual Women’s Baseball Symposium, held at Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory over the weekend.
Dr. Kat Williams, a Marshall University professor and President of the IWBC, kicked off the event by proclaiming, “Do women play baseball? Yes we do, and we always have.” The sentiment resonated throughout the rest of the day, as the history, legacy, and future of women’s baseball were discussed.
Louisville native and Spalding University President Tori Murden McClure delivered an inspiring keynote speech, discussing her amazing feat of becoming the first woman and first American to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean. McClure even shared that the oar handles used during her voyage were made by Louisville Slugger.
Professional umpire Perry Barber and National Women’s Baseball Hall of Famer Carol Sheldon shared their experiences of being hands-on with the sport of baseball throughout their career during the future of women in baseball panel. Women interested in umpiring or playing baseball can visit the IWBC’s website for more information. University of Louisville professor Dr. Mary Hums shared some of the results from a study on women in baseball that was completed by a doctoral student in 2013. As part of the study, it was found that approximately 1/3 of employees who currently work for professional baseball teams in a management-type position are women.
After a quick break for lunch, including time for the women to explore our Bat Vault, the afternoon continued with a panel on the history and legacy of women in baseball. Kent State University professor Dr. Leslie Heaphy, who is an expert on the Negro Leagues and the women who played in them, shared that she and some colleagues recently discovered a few other African-American women who played in the Negro Leagues. Former AAGPBL players Maybelle Blair and Shirley Burkovich shared experiences from their playing days, and how playing professional baseball was instrumental when they entered the career world.
Blair drew some laughs during the Q&A session, when she addressed the subject of wearing skirts while playing baseball: “It wasn’t too bad actually, except for when you had to slide. I’m still pulling gravel out of my rear end!”
Visitors to the museum Saturday afternoon scored autographs from Barber, Blair, Burkovich and Sheldon.