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International Women’s Day at the Peoria Sports Complex

The Mariners failed to celebrate appropriately, and lost to the Giants 4-0

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Photo credit to Brittney Bollay

The Mariners take the field and, like many of us have thought about this offseason, I’m thinking about player compensation and team payrolls. The Giants, their opponents, have a $190+ million payroll which is, somehow, not enough. Not enough for their front office, their players, or their fans.

A number of sources online cite the Dolly Vardens of Philadelphia, an African American women’s baseball team from 1867, as the first baseball team to be financially compensated for their play. It’s a fact that has proven difficult to definitively verify, but the Dolly Vardens remain an integral part of baseball history. Mary Craig wrote brilliantly on them in October.

Despite a Jarrett Parker double, Rob Whalen gets out of the first inning unscathed, and the top of the Mariners lineup faces off against Johnny Cueto. He forces Guillermo Heredia, in his first game back in the field, to ground out, then strikes out Andrew Romine and Kyle Seager in quick succession.

Cueto grew up in San Pedro de Macorís, in the Dominican Republic, and was raised primarily by his mother, Maria Christina. He was one of five children, and Maria Christina worked as a sales-lady and leverage her sewing skills to sell clothes “house to house,” to ensure that Cueto “never had to beg for equipment,” unlike many other kids in the barrio.

The Giants get on the board first, in the top of the second inning, thanks to Taylor Motter’s decision to channel Brad Miller, back-to-back singles, a GIDP, and a double. The three Mikes - Zunino, Ford, and Marjama - fail to successfully reach base.

I watch Zunino strike out swinging and am reminded of Meg Rowley (sorry Meg, not all associations are always “good”), one of his staunchest supporters. Last year she worked with the Mariners to launch “Women in Baseball Night,” which featured a panel of women, all working in baseball, in some capacity. It was the first event of its kind, and it returns this year on August 21st, moderated once again by Meg, now the Managing Editor of The Hardball Times.

In the bottom of the third, John Andreoli singles. His eventual two hits will make up a grand total of half the hits the Mariners will record throughout the duration of this game.

Last year Andreoli represented Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic, something he shares with Paola Zunino, Mike’s mother, who caught for Italy’s national softball team.

Braden Bishop strikes out swinging, but Heredia hits a single to move Andreoli into scoring position. Andrew Romine puts a stop to any scoring nonsense.

During Heredia’s years in Cuba, it’s possible that he played in a game umpired, at least in part, by a woman. As of 2015, there were seven women umpiring at various levels throughout Cuba. Janet Moreno Mendinueta was the only woman in the Serie Nacional at the time of this article, but other women were working their way through the ranks.

Ryan Cook gives up two more runs off of a Trevor Brown double at the top of the seventh, but eventually gets Mac Williamson swinging.

The crowd in Peoria sings along to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” after Cook exits, unknowingly omitting part of the lyrics, as has become tradition. The full version of the ballpark classic tells the story of Katie Casey, a baseball fanatic in 1908, who insists that she and her date go to a baseball game instead of the movies.

Max Povse enters the eighth inning. He doesn’t allow any hits in his two innings of work though he does struggle with control, walking three of the eight batters he faces.

Povse has a decent curveball, but it would have been no match for Mamie Johnson, a South Carolina pitcher for the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League from 1953-1955. Johnson was one of the first women to play above the minor league level, and went a stunning 33-8 in her three years with the Clowns, fueled by a devastating curveball picked up from Satchel Paige. She ended her baseball career to become a nurse and, later, to run a Negro Leagues memorabilia store.

Tonight the Seattle Mariners lost to the San Francisco Giants 4-0, and women continue to make, at most, 79 cents for every dollar a white man earns (black women earn 60 cents, and Hispanic women earn 55 cents).