I’ve been a diehard fan Dodger fan since the early 2000s – not the best time to decide to fall in love, most decidedly a good time to get your heart broken – especially during the McCourt years. My love affair with the game is quite specifically what made this happen, even to the chagrin of my Yankee loving family. Never being able to watch my team play, I found myself going to Dodger games with my coworkers after moving to California in 1996, where the lure of the Boys in Blue captured my heart. You can never really deny a baseball fan the ability to sit and watch a game, elbows to knees, head in hands, staring a field of men playing a boy’s game.
I grew up with baseball. Our parents would take me and my brother to a Yankee game at least once during a season. My uncle’s firm had season tickets, which we were lucky to be able to use, allowing us to be close to the dugout. As a child, I would think the players seemed so huge, men, larger than life, but still, all were men.
My younger brother was a catcher. I remember watching baseball all summer, always searching for ways to be involved. I remember begging the coaches to let me score the games, knowing I would be allowed in the dugout if I did. Whether watching as a sibling or watching as a fan, baseball was always in my life. Again, it was always men.
My mother was seven years old when she first learned who Mickey Mantle was. As the story goes, she would sit on the beach with a transistor radio and listen to the games. My grandparents, as horrible as this sounds, were New York Giants fans, because they loved the Polo Grounds. But my mother? She cared little for the atmosphere – she just loved the game. And she loved her Yankees – loudly. You see it was never weird to me to be a female fan. I grew up that way – and the screaming part was encouraged, if I’m to be honest.
I grew up in a house where you were allowed to ask questions, and I asked plenty. Especially questions about the game. The one question I asked in my head and never out loud is “where were all the women”? We were allowed to be fans, but not too loud. I wondered if there would be a time when men wouldn’t look at us and try to figure out what we were doing there. To be able to go to a game and have a confident discussion as my husband does with the people sitting around us. Because obviously if I’m there I’m only there to be with him. It couldn’t be that I’m the one who gets annoyed at chatter during the game, couldn’t be that I’m the one obsessed with getting there and watching batting practice. It couldn’t be that when we were looking to move, being closer to Dodger Stadium and being a season ticket holder was one of the first things that I thought of.
I don’t remember when I first learned about Kim. I just remember watching her quiet confidence with pure admiration. I remember learning she was a year older than me, and shares my mother’s birthday. Like me, she is from Queens, and spent some of her youth growing up on Long Island with a love of the game. In 1998, she was hired by Brian Cashman as an assistant GM for my childhood team; in 2001, the assistant GM for my adopted team. As the expression goes, always a bridesmaid, it seemed.
It feels like I’ve always known that there was this powerhouse baseball mind who was constantly overlooked for a young hotshot. Every time a GM position would open, I would say this one’s got to be for Kim, right? I mean it has to be, right? And then we’d hear about some man – definitely intelligent, would probably be phenomenal, but a man. No dues paid, definitely hadn’t earned his keep. The formula was the same. White, male, just graduated from an Ivy League school, who definitely had not yet earned his place in the game, only the pieces of paper on his wall. Maybe he’d bring the team to the playoffs. Maybe he wouldn’t. All I know is that when the ownership groups looked for General Managers and made eye contact with a powerhouse with a brilliant baseball mind, all they saw was her gender.
I don’t say this to dismiss the men who got those positions. I think the world of some of the men who sat in that chair. But when you are a woman and you grew up as a fan of a sport that you love, all you dream of someday seeing a qualified woman taking her place at the table.
Women make up a huge percentage of this nation. Of the fans that I’m friends with the majority of them are women. Women know this game. Women love this game. The strategy, rules, all of it.
Lord knows I’m not a Marlins fan. But starting today, this Dodger Season ticket holder is rooting like hell to see that team succeed.