(Just a reminder – it’s only 34 days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training…)
Bernice Gera, of Ernest, Pennsylvania, began a new career at 36 years of age at the Florida Baseball Umpire School in West Palm Beach, Florida in 1967. Umpiring at the National Baseball Congress Tournament in Wichita, Kansas, she wanted to umpire a professional game – to be the first female to do so. She called games in various organizations in the New York City area, but was not allowed into the National Association of Baseball Leagues as an umpire, because she did not meet height, weight, and age standards. In October 1969 the New York Human Rights Division heard her case to allow her to complete her dream. On March 15, 1971 the case went before the New York Court of Appeals and on this day, 35 years ago, the court ruled in her favor. On June 24, 1972 Gera umpired her first professional baseball game – a doubleheader between Auburn and Geneva in the New York-Penn League. Gera umpired the first game and resigned before the 2nd game started, becoming the first woman to umpire a professional game.
Learn more about women’s history and baseball at the Baseball Hall of Fame with the educational module "Dirt on Their Skirts!" To schedule a field trip or connect via videoconference in this standards-based lesson – call us at 607.547.0347 or e-mail us today!