With all the excitement of A League of Their Own — and our super expansive coverage of it! — buzzing on our team the past couple weeks, some of us took a little stroll down memory lane to revisit our pasts as pitchers, catchers, and sluggers. No one could have possibly predicted just how many of us used to play softball/baseball. Just kidding!!!!! I think anyone could have predicted that a decent chunk of the Autostraddle team has dabbled in softball/baseball through the years. We’re a bunch of queers, after all. And now, you can enjoy the photographic evidence of our domination in the diamond!
Got softball/baseball memories of your own? Share them in the comments! And if you haven’t started A League of Their Own yet, what are you waiting for?! Check out our daily recap coverage! Our Editor in Chief Carmen Phillips made an obsessive guide to every parallel between the movie and series, and Senior Editor Heather Hogan (also featured in the roundtable below!) interviewed Melanie Field as well as Roberta Colindrez and Priscilla Delgado!
Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, Managing Editor
The name of my softball team growing up was…………the lady cougars. The lady. Cougars. It was not until I was much older that I realized how weirdo of a name that was, but here we are. My mother was the first base coach on my team when I was super young, and I HATED IT. She used to offer me $1 if I would run through first, but I patently refused, planting my feet firmly on first the second I landed on it. (She also offered me $1 to foul at basketball games because I wasn’t aggressive enough.) I was also a pitcher, and I loved pitching. Of all the team sports I played growing up, I wish I’d stuck with this one. My girlfriend has one of my old softball trophies on display in our home, because that’s dyke interior design, baby!!!
shea martin, Writer
I was late to the baseball/softball trend. I blame this all on an absent-minded teenage batting cage attendant who mistakenly told me I’d only get 5 balls for my $5 fee in 2002. After the fifth ball, I turned to leave the cage and balls started flying at my head. I got hit in the arm by the balls and traumatized — is this why I became a lesbian?! Many doctor visits and thousands of dollars later, my mom said “no softball ever.” Ever only lasted two years, and I joined my school’s softball team in 10th grade. Our team was terrible. Like football-blowout-scores terrible. Either way, I loved it — the chanting, snacks, cute uniforms, hot girls. Oh and of course playing.
Valerie Anne, Writer
I played softball from 5th through 8th grade. My minor league team was The Lightning and we were the worst team in the league but we had the most fun. Our coach was a lighthearted guy (whose daughter, I realized in retrospect, I had a huge crush on) and my dad was the assistant coach. They cared more about teaching us about the sport than winning. In the major leagues we were the Mudhens (??) and we were the best team in the league. I was not, so I did my best to just not fuck that up for everyone. My strongest memories from that team were the time I got smashed in the face by a wild pitch and how my coach used to make fun of me because I would “slide like a dancer.”
Heather Hogan, Senior Writer + Editor
I played softball my whole life, from the age of four to the age of 34 when endometriosis made it impossible for me to run. This photo is from my first softball team, the Blue Angels! We won the five-year-old championship against Big Mac Attack! I played first base because I was very long and bendy and didn’t mind getting hit in the face for the sake of the game. One time, in fifth grade, Emily P. — our amazing shortstop who had an arm like a cannon! — knocked out some of my teeth! I also have had stitches in my tongue, chin, knee, finger, palm, arm, and calf because of softball. I wouldn’t trade those scars for anything in the world!
Stef Rubino, Writer
I WISH I had a better copy of this photo because it’s cut off right where my team nickname — “Icebox” — was printed but I can’t find the physical copy anywhere. My dad, who was the assistant coach of a couple of my sports teams growing up, gave it to me because my brother and I loved watching Little Giants, and that was the nickname of the girl in the movie. He said I was much better suited for the name because I was bigger and tougher. I’m not sure if the latter was true but it’s a cute story. I only played softball for a few years, and I remember it fondly but for some reason, I mostly only remember being in the dugout, talking shit to my little friends, eating sunflower seeds, and cheering on my teammates. I know for certain I enjoyed myself, though! I’ve always been pretty social, so looking back, I can see how playing sports was mostly just another way for me to hang out with kids my age.
Katie Reilly, Writer
Wow such an awkward phase with these baby hairs in the center of my face and I swear my ears don’t look that big anymore. I played softball from 1st through 6th grade. In junior high I saw how much running was required in practice and I was like no thanks. It was a town league grouped by age. There would be a tryout day and the coaches would then pick people and announce the teams. The teams were always named after local businesses that had sponsored them and my most successful team in 4th-6th grade — which I think is what this picture is from because I remember being happy our team color was light blue – was named for a funeral home. When I started softball as a kid I thought it was boring and I would draw in the dirt in the outfield but by the time I made it to the older teams I was actually pretty good. Not the best, but I am left handed and could throw far enough to be a good outfielder and hit good line drives down third base. The funeral home team had a lot of really great players on it and I am the proud owner of multiple 1st and 2nd place softball trophies that I now have no clue what to do with. A lot of my best friends at the time played on other teams in the town league and we LOVED A League of Their Own. Are you surprised that a lot of us are queer now?
Drew Gregory, Writer
When I was a kid, I followed all the rules. Maybe that’s why I liked to steal. Baseball was the only place where stealing wasn’t just allowed — it was celebrated. Stealing bases had all the excitement of a heist with far less risk, and with speed like mine, no risk at all. I didn’t know who I really was, and I was too ignorant and too scared to find out. I wasn’t a trans girl who had it in her to demand girlhood instead of boyhood, ballet instead of baseball. But if I managed to get on first, the expected could at last disappear. That confused little girl could take everything that was hers — second, third, and, once or twice, she even found her way home.
Anya Richkind, Director of Brand Partnerships
Here I am hamming it up in my Red Sox uniform, suggesting my overall trajectory away from sports and towards theater! Despite being a theater kid through and through, I always loved baseball. More than playing T-Ball and softball, I loved attending baseball games. The hot chocolate, the blankets, the churros… (I grew up in San Francisco, so evening baseball games were usually chilly.) More than any of that, though, I loved keeping score. My dad taught me how to do so and got me this special score-keeping notepad for it. I wrote down every pitch in that notepad and, for some reason, found that very thrilling. Looking back, keeping score felt like a way to engage with the game in the present, and also a way to record it for future nostalgia — I loved flipping through the notebook almost as much as filling it. Baseball will always have a very special place in my heart.
Riese , CEO
I was a baseball fanatic as a kid, like I was the only girl in the Baseball Card Club, was obsessed with baseball history and my Dad and brother and I played extravagant, constant games of Strat-o-Matic baseball. I also played on a softball team but alas I have no pictures of it on my person! Instead I have this: me being a Detroit Tiger for Halloween.