At first blush, Sunday, August 26, appeared to be a typical game day (actually it was a night game) for the Frisco RoughRiders of the Texas League. With a little more than a week to go in the season, the Riders were pushing to win the second half of the season and the right to advance to the post-season to meet Corpus Christi in the playoffs. Aside from that, a few members of the team were auditioning for a possible call-up to the team’s big league affiliate, the Texas Rangers, during the month of September.
As usual, it was Kids Sunday Funday at Dr Pepper Ballpark, which meant that before the game against the Midland Rockhounds the wee folk could play catch on the field before the game and enjoy a fireworks display after the game. Also, ice cream sandwiches were available for just $1.00 all night long. Obviously, you get more bang for your buck on Sunday Funday, but piling on promotions is common in minor league baseball.
On this particular Sunday, Frisco sweetened the pot with an additional promotion: Girl Power Night! The videoboard’s girly logo for same featured a baseball with pink stitches. Maybe they had some for sale in the team shop…I forgot to check!
The date selected for Girl Power Night coincides with National Women’s Equality Day, so-called because on August 26, 1920, the United States Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, thus enfranchising women. Ironically, then-President Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke, and his wife was more or less (depending on which historian you consult) running the executive branch of the government.
You might wonder what the hell all this has to do with baseball. Well, minor league baseball is noted for off-the-wall (pun intended) promotions that would never pass muster in the more dignified realm of major league ball. Many of the promotions are clever, some are just plain weird.
Any promotion even remotely political, however, is usually taboo. Unfortunately, minor league teams, like their major league counterparts, often have corporate partnerships so a certain amount of virtue signaling is inevitable. Consequently, Girl Power night should hardly come as a surprise.
At this point in time, the theme of female empowerment has become so mainstream it is beyond controversy. We’re all on board with it, right? We all agree that it’s a good thing, right? If you have a problem with such a promotion, well, you must be a misogynist. What other explanation could there be?
So what did the Girl Power “festivities” entail? Upon entering the ballpark, fans were handed a 2018 Topps baseball card of baseball great Joe Torre, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014. This giveaway would seem to be totally unrelated to the theme, but it turns out that the Joe Torre Foundation features an anti-domestic violence program called Safe at Home (get it?). Apparently, Torre’s father was abusive so domestic violence has become his pet project.
Now I don’t have anything against such a charity, but I have to wonder why it is associated with Girl Power night. After all, roughly half the children who are victims of domestic violence are boys. Of course, you could promote the charity during Boy Power night … whoops, I forgot! You can’t schedule a Boy Power promotion (and God forbid you should hand out Boys Rule! t-shirts) unless you want to ignite a social media firestorm and elbow your way past demonstrators blocking the gates at the ballpark.
Pocketing my Joe Torre card, I entered the park and noticed that the regular public address announcer was shunted aside in favor of a female (a pleasant enough voice but she made three mistakes before the evening was over). This is not quite as revolutionary as it sounds, since some major league teams (most recently the Mets) have hired female PA announcers. Thankfully, when the Girl power sub announced the starting lineups, she did not refer to the first, second, and third basemen as basepersons.
When it came to the national anthem, a Girl Scouts color guard was called upon to enhance the ceremony. The singer, of course, was female, but that is nothing new.
Once the game got underway, males were in short supply. Aside from the players, umpires, and members of the grounds crew (another one of those dirty, low-paying yet essential tasks), male presence on the field was scarce. Even the bat boys were given the day off in favor of bat girls.
All the between-innings games (e.g., water balloon toss, human dot race) that are part and parcel of minor league games were restricted to girls and good role models (female first responders).
There were a couple of visible men. A common feature of ball games today is a salute to veterans for their service. Typically, one vet is selected to stand up and take a bow as a symbol for the armed forces. On Girl Power night one might assume they could have found a female vet without too much trouble, but, miracle of miracles, a man was selected. I can only assume they goofed and had to pick a man at the last minute.
Another male exception was the guy who was selected to take on Wonder Woman in the Amazonian Run. His task was to race a video image of Wonder Woman on a ribbon board along the outfield fence. Care to guess who won? Jesse Owens in his prime would have been overmatched.
Finally, we were treated to video interviews of prominent women in sports, either athletes or broadcasters, and a video of Girl Scouts being prepared for leadership roles in today’s world. Gee, wonder if there’ll be enough room at the top for all those girls being groomed to believe it’s their rightful place..
To top off the evening, the fireworks display featured a loop of female athletes in action and ultimately triumphing…doing the dogpile, raising the trophy, etc. Unspoken in all this is in the rush to female empowerment in sports is how many intercollegiate male sports – baseball among them — have been sacrificed thanks to Title IX.
I’m not aware of any other team doing a Girl Power promotion. There are so many minor league teams in our fair land, it would require hours of research to figure that out. More to the point, when August 26 rolls around next year, will the Riders (if they’re at home that day) do it again? Will other teams take note and institute a Girl Power night so that it spreads and eventually becomes an annual promotion throughout minor league ball?
International Men’s Day is November 19, long after the end of baseball season. I’m sure if it fell during the baseball season we would be commemorating that at the old ballpark? Right?
Well, November 19 falls on a Monday in 2018. What a great opportunity for Monday Night Football! Are you listening, ESPN?
Wonder how Commissioner Goodell would react if the players took a knee to protest feminism.