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Women, Sport, and Film - 2002
The year was 1925, when the beliefs of regular gals and folks were still extremely antiquated compare to the beliefs they have now. The main character was an 18 years old lesbian named Sam (short for Samantha) Johnson, who was from a working class family that lived in New York City. Her mom was a sweatshop worker, and her dad picked up garbage for a living. She had 7 brothers and sister because her parents did not believe in birth control (besides, birth control pills didn't exist then). Her family lived in a tiny one-room apartment in the Harlem district, and they lived day-to-day, paycheck to paycheck. Ever since Sam was a young child, she had been in love with the game of baseball. She loved anything and everything about baseball. She would collect baseball cards, catch baseball games on t.v, and read everything on her favorite baseball team, the Yankees. She bought her first baseball bat and glove when she was 16, she got the money by collecting soda cans and returning them to recycling center for money. It took her almost 3 years to get the baseball bat and gloves, and she could only afford the cheapest kind. She was a terrific baseball player, which was surprising because she had never taken any lessons. I guess it is her gift. Everyday after the end of school, she would go to a baseball field behind her house to play baseball with her friends. Most of her friends were boys; she didn't have one single girl friend. Sam had always known that she was a lesbian, but she didn't come out to her parents till she was 16. Her parents were shocked at first, but now they accepted her for who she was. Sam hadn't told any of her friends about her being gay because she didn't think it was any of their business. It had been a life-long dream of Sam to join a major league baseball team, but she knew that she needed to finish high school first. In June of 1925, Sam finally graduated from high school. She told her parents that she wanted to try-out for a major league baseball team. One of the main reasons was that Sam had hoped to earn money to help support her family. She knew how hard her parents had worked, and she realized she needed to contribute in one way. Her parents were certainly shocked but definitely not surprised when Sam told them she wanted to join a major league baseball team. Her parents did not discourage her; instead they decided to support her in her quest. But they warned her by telling her that she had many obstacles to overcome, especially with her being poor, a girl AND a lesbian. In 1925, men dominated the major league baseball community. Any woman who wanted to join was discriminated, degraded, and ostracized. Sam's parents knew that, and they were worried for her. They told her that it would not be easy, but as long as you tried your hardest, anything can happen. So with those words of encouragement, Sam left the comfort of her parents' home, and went in search for her life-long dream.
The first team that she acquired about practically laughed in her face when she told them that she wanted to join their team. One of the team members even said, "Get out of here, you bitch! Baseball is not for women! Go home, cook for your man, and wash the floor!" One suggested, "Baseball is a MAN sport, why do you want to play so badly? Huh? Are you a dyke or something? Oh my god, you are! No one likes lesbians here, so why don't you get out of here!" This same situation went on team after team, but Sam didn't give up and she kept right on asking. Along the way, she met a few other women who had the same dream as she. They realized that for them to gain recognition and even the remote chance of signing to a major league baseball team, they needed an agent. No male agents wanted to take them on as their agent, but Anthony Scarpetta took a chance on them. He unwaveringly campaigned for them, but no matter how hard he tried, no one would take them seriously. Realizing that no one would ever take them seriously and that there was no chance for them to play in the major league, Sam and the other women decided to start their own minor league team. When their first minor league woman was established, they hoped that other women would start creating their own teams. But of course they encountered many obstacles on the way to establish a minor league team. They had to find sponsors to give them money to build uniform and the necessities, but most people were unwilling to sponsor a female baseball team. Sam and the other women definitely did not give up though. They had fund-raisers; they found a few companies that were willing to sponsor them. In 2 years, there were a total of 8 teams in the United States. Over the years, they kept playing the game that they all loved. But no matter how many people watched them play, and how popular the game of woman baseball became, it never became a major league sport.
Flash forward to April of 2010...A few months ago, at the inauguration of the Woman Major Baseball League, the President of the League gave an inspiring speech: "...Last, but certainly not the least, I would like to say a note of thanks for the person who inspired me to start this league, Ms. Samantha Johnson. Without her unwavering courage, and her inspiring dream and ideals, the Woman Major Baseball League would not be here right now. Even though she's not here on earth anymore, every woman in the world will remember her as the woman who inspired every woman to follow her dream. Although there were many obstacles that stood in Ms. Johnson's way, she did not give up. And look at what her refusal to abandon her dream do to all the women who love to play baseball. Well, here's to Samantha Johnson!"
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