Blue Herons Are State Champs!
Long before we were inundated by Thurst or Qutie, Bumble or Zoe, Tinder or Hinge, or any other of the endless dating apps, we had softball. Yvonne Zipter wrote a book and titled it Diamonds are a Dyke’s Best Friend. Its subtitle is Reflections, Reminiscences, and Reports from the Field on the Lesbian National Pastime.
The Lesbian National Pastime.
Sounds like a sport we would need to have in Rehoboth Beach. And, we do!
This year, on a field in Schutte Park in Dover, the Blue Herons, managed by Sharon Kanter and coached by Theresa Kugelmann, became the Delaware Senior Olympic State Champions. They will next be heading to the National Senior Olympic Tournament*, held in Ft Lauderdale, where they will go for the gold.
And to no one in Rehoboth Beach’s surprise, one of the teams the Herons beat to get that gold was their local rival, the Softball Rebels, who they bested in a nail-biter of a playoff, 13-11.
"Country dykes, city dykes, dykes with four-year degrees, dykes who are feminists, dykes who aren't, dykes of different races and classes, dyke who have been athletes all their lives, and dykes who are just discovering, or rediscovering after year[s], the values of athletic endeavors—there are softball players among all their ranks…” —Yvonne Zipter
Title IX, the groundbreaking, world-changing federal civil right law, which prohibits sex discrimination in any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance, didn’t exist until 1972. There were no women’s lacrosse teams, no Megan Rapinoe, no Sue Bird. Billie Jean King was still in the closet, and no girls were allowed in Little League!
But we had softball.
You didn’t need to be the best, you didn’t even need to play. You could just show up and escape the tacky, backroom bars, or societal pressures to become a mother-teacher-secretary-nun. The softball field was a haven; and one of the few places where women could safely meet other women.
One might argue softball lesbians are the fierce backbone of modern women’s sports. After all, when Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagen was first under consideration for the job, the Wall Street Journal, in an apparent attempt to malign her, chose to run a then 17-year-old photo of her playing softball—on their front page. (The WSJ vigorously denies there was any lesbian innuendo in this choice.)
Going deep and sliding home.
On Schutte Field the medals were awarded to the winning team by none other than 78-year-old, still-playing-softball Dr. Bonnie Strang, and were received by 20 of our finest over-50 players (the local league is 45 and up; the Olympic team is 50+).
If either team has a five-run inning, the inning ends—unless it’s the seventh inning, then we go for it—unless we go up by 12 runs and invoke the “Slaughter Rule.” And there are a few subtle concessions to age; after all, new hips aren’t easy to replace. So, home plate and first base have two bags to keep the collisions down.
And over on Holland Glade Road, for two months a year, the soul of the game is unchanged. A safe haven for women to congregate, meet other women, cheer, laugh, enjoy the competition and the comradery.
So come and join them. Want to play? Email Commissioner Rina Pellegrini at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to cheer? The season’s schedules, rosters, etc. can be found at: leaguelineup.com/teams_baseball.asp?url=rehobothsenior&divisionid=927959&teamid=6734812.
And of course, there’s always room for sponsors. We love our teams, and we love their sponsors. The Blue Herons are sponsored by Nicola Pizza, the Shore Sharks by Olivia Travel, the Alley Cats by The Pond, Riptide by Chaps Pit Beef, and the Softball Rebels by The Cobi Group.
And kudos to the Blue Herons! Players: Kim Beddow, Renate Costner, Alina Ferrara, Barb Fischetti, Kathy Fitzgerald, Karen Goodwin, Carol Grubb, Jenn Harpel, Maria Marchegiano, Jen Olstead, Beth Petit, Maryann Slinkman, Wanda Steffy, Bonnie Strang, Lucy Strauss, Lauren Thomas, Linda Twenty, and Patricia Walker. Playoff Loans: Cindy Holt, Cindy Knotts, Pearl Morris, and Lisa Orem. Manager: Sharon Kanter. Coaches: Theresa Kugelmann and Bev Ascolese. Scorekeeper: Sally Marchegiano.
Softball. Batter Up! ▼
*The Blue Herons will be in Fort Lauderdale competing May 10-23, precise dates TBD. If you’re there, come out and cheer them on!
Stefani Deoul is a television producer and author of the award-winning YA mystery series Sid Rubin Silicon Alley Adventures, with On a LARP, Zero Sum Game, and Say Her Name.