Saturday, July 30, 2016

Baseball for All National Tournament

Playing first (error free!)

Sliding back into first after an attempted steal.  Safe!

Fan club

Lots of long days

Before the championship game against the LA Waves

Congratulating the LA Waves

Receiving her silver medal

After the championships!

Celebrating afterward at our favorite burrito place

A few days later, supporting one of her teammates in another tournament.  Other members of the team showed up too, showing awesome support.  They all play on teams and in divisions where they are the only girls out of hundreds of boys (many girls don't even know that they can play baseball).

This experience has been really interesting.  For the record, K was opposed to it from the beginning, not seeing any need to play in an all-girls tournament.  She even asked the coach if boys could sign up if they wanted to (he told her that they could not, though I later learned that he was wrong about this).  She truly doesn't understand, considers it unnecessary and discriminatory, and me a hypocrite for encouraging her to do it.

Her logic is hard to argue with... and yet.  And yet!  There is so much obvious discrimination in baseball, even tournaments and leagues that overtly and without apology have a "no girls" policy.  When I recently politely asked one athletic organization to reconsider, they didn't even give me the courtesy of a reply.  

And then there is the less overt discrimination, the comments I've heard, the actions taken.  One at a time, they are one-offs, ignorant or careless thoughts, perhaps even misinterpreted.  But the list is startling and my conversations with K have made me re-gather those incidents in my mind.  I'm blown away by what in the legal world of employment discrimination we would call a compelling body of evidence, a clear pattern, a hostile environment.

The goal of Baseball for All is to encourage more women to play baseball, ultimately so that there are more pro players who are women.  Two young women who played baseball through this program just played the first all-woman battery (pitcher and catcher) in a pro game last week, which is totally cool.  I see this program as supporting the young women and girls who are pioneers in this worthy effort.

Less convincing is a sub-goal, perhaps not of the organization but of some of the players, to have more all-women teams and leagues.  From what I saw of the players this week, that may be an attractive option for some, but for many would kill the joy of the sport by separating them from too many of their teammates and friends.  More girls in the sport is a worthy idea, but separate gender teams misses the point for many of these athletes.

K wants to believe that she lives in a world where gender discrimination is a thing of the past.  She wants to be a baseball player, not a female baseball player.  I appreciate her angst... heck, I agree with it.  And she's too young for me to burst her bubble... plenty of time to learn about the realities of the world without having your face rubbed in the limitations that can exist for women. She's still at an age when kids deserve to have their idealism supported so that their visions of the world carry hope to become reality. 

The good news in reflecting on the reality of girls in baseball is that the discrimination I have seen has never been from the players (though others on her team reported different experiences).  Despite some parents, K's presence is influencing boys in ways that are clearly powerful and good.  When every boy on a Little League team rises to his feet in excitement simply because she is at bat, when kids' parents report to me that their sons were up at night worried about having to face her the next day as pitcher, when the kids argue about who has played with her longer and who knows her better, when younger siblings write (and draw) fan mail for her, those are kids who are learning not to look down on women, to see women in every situation as strong and capable, and to respect the diversity of talents that women bring to our communities, workplaces, and governments.  To honor her and other athletes like her through this tournament was an honor and a privilege.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

SF History: Kezar Stadium

K is in a baseball tournament (more on that later this week) in San Francisco and the opening ceremonies were at the historic Kezar Stadium. My Dad used to work there and he and his Dad had season tickets to the 49ers when they played there. K got to enter through the tunnel from the locker room where the players used to enter (I didn't even know it was there... but then, I've mostly been in that stadium at the end of the SF Marathon (previous course) and looking for historic tunnels while running the last .2 isn't usually a priority). We had her show it to us and we all thought it was pretty cool! As is this tournament....

K on the left, holding the team banner.  She's playing 13U, so is the youngest for a change.... and in some cases by quite a bit (2.5 years).

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Hendy Woods Continued

We began the day exploring the huts that had belonged to the "Hendy Hermit," a Russian immigrant and local legend who had lived in the forest for many years, nearly until his death in 1981. Very interesting!

Then off to explore other parts of the forest
Blackberries and huckleberries for breakfast

Just cool looking

A ranger led exploration of pond life

Toads in every stage of development

This monster is a bullfrog tadpole

More help from the ranger on the riverbank.  We saw a Western Pond Turtle, identified lots of insects, fish, and birds, and learned that otter live in the river, too.  So cool!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Hendy Woods Day One

I've been wanting to visit Hendy Woods for years - the girls' first pediatrician recommended it ages ago (thank you Dr. Ernster).  Located along the Navarro river in two ancient Redwood groves in the beautiful Anderson Valley, it was wonderful in every way.  A quiet and only half-full campground.  Perfect weather, day and night.  Rich river and forest life situated among majestic Redwoods.  Heavenly.

Tiny toad

And she looks mad!

Playing all day in the river

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Filoli Embroidery Exhibit

Before the tour
A change of pace to a local wonder I'd never before visited.  Will have to return to visit the gardens; this trip was all about the embroidery exhibit and our tour was led by one of the artists.  Fascinating!

Learning about the process

One of my favorites; I like the geometrical designs
"Like painting with a brush with a single bristle"

G's favorite - 3D!
K's favorite
Likely done with a magnifier!  Impressive....

Sunday, July 17, 2016

SF Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale

A last-minute trip with cousins to see a really great production with many of the "resident artists" who have been the girls' teachers over the past few years. They especially loved seeing Phil, one of their favorite teachers, again in a starring role.  A late night, but a fun one... and probably one of the best overall productions we've seen in many years.  We loved the comedy, the costumes, the story, and really amazing acting... plus it was fun to identify actors from previous productions, both with SF Shakes and even from Marin Shakespeare productions.

SF History: Baseball in 1864

K's tournament team was practicing in Golden Gate Park and the team that followed was one that followed 1884 baseball rules:  wooden bats, funny uniforms, and gloves with almost no padding.  K went onto the field again after her practice to ask more questions and even got to try on a glove.  She was impressed!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Capay Valley Tomato Festival

Low-key and fun; we camped in the fig orchard, a unique experience.

I learned that tomato plants grow as tall as me; the kids were lost in the rows, picking various types.  Then we tasted multiple variations and voted on our favorites in the cherry and heirloom categories.

Fabulous fun on a tree swing

Strawberry fields

Hours and hours of dancing


Cousins who are also watermelon pickers