60 Years After the Yankees Told Her the Dugout Was No Place for a Girl, She Threw Out the First Pitch

Gwen for the win! Kathy Willens/AP

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Beyond Paul O’Neill hitting two home runs for a sick kid at Kramer’s (maybe) behest, I don’t have great feelings about the Yankees. They’re easy villains, I’m not from New York, and I never liked A-Rod. But! Last week, they did something so thoroughly incredible that even the most strident Yankees haters will have to deeply appreciate it.

The story goes like this: Gwen Goldman was 10 years old when she wrote to the Yankees asking to be a bat girl. The letter they wrote back is pretty heinous, though not surprising given that it was, well, 1961: “While we agree with you that girls are certainly as capable as boys, and no doubt would be an attractive addition on the playing field, I am sure you can understand that in a game dominated by men a young lady such as yourself would feel left out of place in a dugout.”

Exactly 60 years later (to the month!)—through a decades-long marriage, the raising of two daughters, the spoiling of two grandkids—Gwen still has that letter. It’s become something like family lore. I know this because my friend Abby is Gwen’s younger daughter, and told me as much recently: “It was all just known, part of the family’s storybook,” she texted me. “I don’t remember my mom first telling me because it was something that was totally woven into the seams of our family. Playing softball with my mom and my papa, going to baseball games, mom’s dream of being a bat girl and my papa telling her to write and ask. And The Letter—that was hung in our basement bathroom!”

So Abby had the idea, without her mom’s knowledge, to write another letter to the Yankees, asking them to rectify this wrong.

Then, finally, they actually did. Last week, Abby and her family tricked Gwen onto a Zoom. Instead of a video feed celebrating the end of her grandson’s school year, squares popped up with Yankees GM Brian Cashman and star pitcher Gerrit Cole. Cashman read Gwen the new letter the organization had just sent: “Some dreams take longer than they should to be realized, but a goal attained should not dim with the passage of time.”

Yesterday was Gwen’s big day. 

 

The icing on the cake: Not only did Gwen get to be a bat girl, but she threw out the first damn pitch, looking like a total pro in that uniform.

More than an attractive addition, I’d say?

This all melted even my cynical, hardened heart. If you don’t tear up…I truly give up on humanity.

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