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She grew up playing ball with her younger brother, Tom, on their family’s farm in Saskatchewan, Canada. She was about five-foot,” Henschel tells me over the phone from the home she shares with Donahue. went even further than that, instituting a policy against fraternizing with other teams.

“She had dark hair, blue eyes, and was very attractive, and she was wonderfully liked.” Donahue was in Nova Scotia for the winter when she met Henschel, who was 19 at the time. “She was a utility player, and the catcher on her team broke her thumb or her finger,” Henschel says. The given reason was “to sustain the complete spirit of rivalry between clubs,” but Browne writes that the real reason that teams imposed stiff fines on players who violated this rule was the fear of lesbianism.

They could have lost their families, occupations, and reputations, too. baseball game and the first woman to get a win in collegiate baseball. They often arrived from small towns or rural areas and were quite young when they left home.

As Ila Borders, the first woman to play for a men’s professional baseball team since the Negro Leagues, wrote in her memoir, , “I remain certain that my professional career would not have been possible had I come out.” In 1994, Borders, a left-handed pitcher, became the first woman to receive a college baseball scholarship. In her essay, “The Lesbian Label Haunts Women Athletes,” Lynn Rosellini writes, “To most lesbian athletes … Hunter, who was from Winnipeg, Canada, said she had “never heard of lesbianism,” so her teammates regaled her with tales of lesbian love affairs. Well, I just thought they were giving me the gears because I was a green Canadian.” But many of the players were unattached.

coming out is not yet worth it.” “If a woman plays hardball, people figure she’s likely gay,” writes Borders. If straight players were married, many of their husbands were off at war or were left back at home on farms or in factories.

In those days, “you had to be very discreet, and we were,” says Henschel. She then played for the independent, otherwise all-male St. “In 1994 few in baseball — or in the country — were ready to accept a gay player, male or female,” writes Borders. As a result, it was not uncommon for new or younger players to be completely blindsided by the relationships between their teammates.

“No one was even aware of it because we got so careful and no one would have even imagined anything at all.” That stigma has carried on for decades. Indeed, that same year, the book was also published. Dorothy Hunter entered the League in 1943, when she was 27.


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