My mom and I were watching Thor’s batting practice tonight. As always, she was watching the coach with one eye, and Thor with the other, muttering praise, or worry as the coach did this, or that. With most mothers, that would be some armchair quarterbacking, but with mine? Mine knows her baseball from the inside out. My mom played baseball for years.
She was squinting at how Thor was standing and I asked, “Which team was it that came and scouted you?”
“The Cardinals,” she said. “St. Louis.” That turned her around in my direction.
“I always get that wrong,” I said. “I always think it was one of the sock teams And tell me again how they found you?”
“My coach. Coach Ball. He was talking about Jo Young, telling them how good this Joe Young was, and they thought he was talking about a boy.” Now she was squinting at me.
I smiled at her. “And tell me what the scout said.”
“He said I was amazing. He told my coach that everything he said about me was true, and I was one of the best they’d seen.”
“But you couldn’t play.”
“No. I couldn’t. He said, ‘She’s everything you said, but she’s just a girl.'”
I have zero body intelligence, as we’ve discussed before. I can barely do yoga. So, the idea that I might not ever be allowed to play sports professionally has never bothered me. I don’t care that I can’t play baseball professionally because I have XX chromosomes because I can’t play baseball anyway. You would have to Bionic Woman me to even get me on a playing field with the AAA rookies. But what if someone told me I couldn’t write professionally because of my sex? The level of devastation would be overwhelming. If you’re good enough, what’s your junk got to do with it? Why should your gender stand in the way of your earning power? And I say earning power because ARod makes a helluva lot more money than Crystl Bustos. Who? Exactly.
At dinner I asked my mom, “How did it feel to know that you had the same, or better ability than some men, but weren’t going to have the same opportunity to make a living doing something you loved? That you weren’t going to have the same opportunity to create wealth for yourself doing something you were born with a natural ability to do?”
She shook her head, “It was hard. It was always hard.”
How different, how much better, how much more fulfilling could my mother’s life have been, had she been afforded the opportunity to play professional ball?
I told her I wanted to do a video interview for the blog. She squinted at me some more, then cocked her head to the left. She said, “All right.” And went back to her dinner.
Thor went home with her, where he’ll be practicing the drills the coach gave him to do. No one better to show him the way than the Mighty Jo Young.