A league for those who say softball isn’t enough
Valhalla – If and when Nancy Haggerty ever gets the mud of herself, she may discover nothing but bruises and sore muscles underneath. But she won’t be able to wipe the smile of her face.
Haggerty, of Somers, was the catcher for the Manhattan Giants in the opening day game of the New York Women’s Baseball Association yesterday at Westchester Community College. She blocked countless pitches in the dirt, dived for foul pops, strike bases sliding.
“I wanted to play baseball since I was 2 years old,” she said. “One of my first words was ‘Yankees’. Most people say ‘Mom, Dad.’ Mine was ‘Ankees’. It is the thing that basically makes me that happiest when I’m playing baseball.”
Like most women and girls, though,she has found the opportunity to play baseball is limited. Some girls can play Little League with the boys before being funneled toward softball in high school and college. They are told in high school that if they want to play college softball, they will have to go that route that whole way.
Some get to play with the men later, as Haggerty occasionally has for three or fours years with the over-30 Cotland Alleycats.
But the girls/women rarely get to play in a league of their own.
Until now. “The convention at this point in time is one that supports softball for the women once they hit, baically, puberty,” Sue Winthrop of White Plains said. “They separate the girls from the boys. The boys continue to play baseball and the girls play softball. And not all of us like that.”
Winthdrop is a co-founder and treasurer of the new league, which began last year and yesterday opened its first full season. She is alos the Westchester team’s head coach and a pitcher who toughed out, oh, probably 200 pitches her 48-year-old right arm in the Cyclones 19-12 win. Not only that, but before the game she was out there with a rake getting the field playable, bacause she wasn’t going to have opening day washed out for a second time.
Normally, Winthrop and Haggerty and others play for the Westchester Yankees. Because of a miscommunication, some of the Yankees didn’t make it to the game, which was supposed to be a doubleheader. The Cyclones, out of Queens and Long Island, and the Giants, out of Manhattan, split up the Westchester players and away they went.