Now Batting and Playing First Base...
The Eclectic Notebook
At St. Mary's College in Maryland, there's a special player on the baseball team.
The player stands at 5-ft., 8-in., 130 pounds and plays a mean first base. But what separates this player from the rest is that this first baseman is a woman.
Today, when St. Mary's faces Spring Garden College, Julie Croteau will become the first women to play in an NCAA baseball game.
"There's no reason why baseball can't be co-ed," Croteau says. "It's not that women aren't interested in baseball. It's just not having a chance."
"I think it's awesome," Croteau adds. "I happy that I'm the one doing it. But I didn't expect to be the one. Going through the ranks, I had to fight every step of the way."
Croteau, who started playing Little league Baseball when she was six years old, experienced a lot of problems in her Virginia high school.
"I had a really hard time on the JV team," Croteau says. "The coach didn't tell me that I made the team until asking me if I would play softball."
Croteau also encountered many sexist actions by the opposing teams. She says that pitchers intentionally hit her or walked the batter in front of her so that they could pitch to her.
"It's a non-verbal slap in the face," Croteau says.
The best revenge is success.
Through all of the distracting circumstances, Croteau managed to maintain a batting average above .300.
"It's fun when I get a double or a big hit against [the pitcher]," Croteau says.
During her junior year, Croteau got cut from the team. She admits that she wasn't good enough at the time. And despite improving her game and receiving support from her teammates, Croteau continued to have problems with the head coach.
"I was good enough, but I was a girl," Croteau says.
She filed a sex discrimination suit against the high school during her senior year but lost.
Croteau did play, however, for the Fredericksburg Giants, a semi-pro baseball team in Virginia; a lot of the players there were former minor leaguers or players heading to the minors.
Today, Croteau enjoys playing on the St. Mary's team.
"I'm having a lot of fun," Croteau says. "They've accepted me as one of the players, not as a girl or a guy. Baseball's fun again."
A Fun Game
Baseball is especially fun when one of your opponents isn't your coach. Croteau's college coach has not been putting up the road blocks that her high school coach did.
"He doesn't discriminate against me or make it especially difficult for me," Croteau says. "That's all I want. I don't want any special favors because I'm a girl."
"She's accepted as a player and a student," St. Mary's Public Information Director Chris Cihlar says. "This is a natural thing to happen at this place. Gender is not an issue at St. Mary's We're going to write a little history without trying."
Croteau's goals for this season are to hit well and play the best ball she can. She would also like to steal a couple more bases.
"I'm lacking in the speed area," Croteau says. "Because of this, I have to think more and look for more openings."
She also hopes to continue playing baseball after college.
"I would like to play baseball forever, or as long as I can," Croteau says.
Her favorite team is the Boston Red Sox, and Croteau dreams of playing first base at Fenway Park.
Bill Bucker may always be remembered for allowing Mookie Wilson's shot to get past him, but Croteau hopes to come along and be remembered for quite different reasons.
Harvard Co-Captains Frank Huerta and Doug Lifford defeated players from Cornell, 3-0, and Penn, 3-1, at the Intercollegiate Doubles Championship in New York, But the dynamic duo lost in the finals to Yale's Erick Wohglemuth and Alex Dean.
"It's a social event," Huerta said. "It wasn't big-time competition. It was fun to play."
Quote of the Week: "In a capitalist system, you always have the haves and have-nots. You live with it or go to Russia."--Southern Basketball Coach Ben Jobe on the NCAA Tournament.
Runner-up: "I don't want somebody from Arizona State coaching the Michigan team. A Michigan man is going to coach Michigan. I'm going to seek the greatest basketball coach in America to coach this team."--Michigan Football Coach and Athletic Director Bo Schembechler discussing Michigan basketball coach Bill Frieder. Frieder accepted the coaching position at Arizona for next season.