Yesterday was Opening Day for the 2021 baseball season….unless you are a Mets or Nationals fan, as the latter had a scary COVID outbreak.
I am a pretty diehard Mets fan, and so is cartoonist Ellen Lindner, and she’s combined baseball and comics in a new Instagram comic that just launched about the history of women in baseball.
Happy Opening Day to any baseball fans! *taps mic* This year I’ve chosen to mark opening day by posting the beginning of a series of comics about gender as an exclusionary force in American baseball. Cheery, huh? By this, I mean I want to examine the system where baseball is kept for one gender only, as much as possible, except when there is an advantage to allowing other people in (usually to make money.) After all, this world where softball is for girls and baseball is for boys didn’t come about by accident. Thanks for reading, and please put any questions in the comments!
Women have a long history in baseball, including women who played professionally with men in the minor leagues in the US and Japan. Ellen Lindner has actually produced two issues of The Cranklet’s Chronicle, a zine telling the history of some of the more notable women in baseball history. The first issue spotlights Joan Whitney Payson, the woman who started the entire Mets franchise as founding owner. The second is about Effa Manley, the first woman in the Hall of Fame as owner of the Newark Eagles, an essential figure in the history of the Negro Leagues.
There are some sample pages from both issues below, but for a mere $8 you can buy both — each issue also includes interviews, and more supplemental material about current day women in baseball. And be sure to follow along with her new comic on Instagram.
Just a personal note: probably part of the reason I ever got into baseball was that the Mets of the ’70s seemed to be way more female-friendly: they had a bold woman owner; organist Jane Jarvis supplied the riffs that cheered on the often painful doings at Shea Stadium; Mrs. Met was perhaps the only female mascot in men’s professional sports; and even the Mets theme song, “Meet the Mets,” had a female co-writer, Ruth Roberts.
These were little things, but unusual, and gave me an inclusionary entrance into the sport.
Today baseball has its first female General Manager (Kim Ng at the Marlins) and various female coaches are making history on and off the field. And of course, women play baseball and softball at all levels around the world. Perhaps once the weather is nicer, I’ll even pick up the old whifflebat and hit a few fungoes.
The Cranklet’s Chronicle is a great example of a cartoonist’s personal interest producing comics that give us a history that is often overlooked. Play ball!