Boston sports writers are sissies.
The banned me from the all-male sanctuary -- the Red Sox press box -- because they are afraid to establish what they consider -- dangerous precedent.
Women reporters are by tradition here in Boston persona non grata in the press box. No traveling female reporter from Cleveland is going to shatter that rule. The finality of the writers’ decision had all the boom of a strike called by Umpire Bill Summers.
“It was a close vote, five to four,” said Globe sportswriter Bob Holbrook apologetically.
Holbrook is chairman of the Boston Baseball Writers’ Association. It is his job, according to association by-laws, to O.K. visiting scribes.
“They want a meeting about this,” Holbrook told me when I showed up at Fenway Park yesterday. “I might have to resign over this. In fact, I feel like it.”
The gallant Mr. Holbrook said, after the vote, and a trifle lamely: “Well, we could let you in, but how about the other girls on the Boston papers. They’ve wanted to get in a long time ago.”
Holbrook need not reign, even though writers with the long distance views won, because I had fun trying to crash the press box.
Warned against cheering
So far , on my swing around the Eastern circuit with the Indians, my press box record is 2-2.
At Baltimore and Washington, I was received with open arms. The lofty-looking Baltimore press box in new Memorial Stadium was my first stop. I was treated royally to hot dogs and soft drinks, although my presence irked a columnist from an Ohio paper.
During an enthusiastic cheering spree for the Indians, in unison with Roger Maris, the injured Cleveland outfielder, we were told: “If you want to cheer, get out of the press box.” Maris went back to the dugout, and I hung on, but with less volume to my “come on team.”
In Baltimore, my presence put a crimp in Bobb Newsom’s exuberant entrance. As he swung into the press box club quarters, one wart writer yelled: “Language!”
Charlie Dressen, over in the Washington press box, was reduced to a few whispers when he was warned about “the lady reporter.” Dressen is a front-office man with the Senators now.
I made history in Washington’s Griffith Park, the first woman reporter to sit in the press box. I wonder what the grumbling Ohio scribe thought the day I sat there with the Bob Addie of the Washington Post, who brought along his three-year old son, Rusty. It must have looked like ladies’ day.
Over in Baltimore, I almost convinced the team that an inning on the bench in the dugout would give me a real feel for the game, and I could not find out first-hand what players say. Approaching this assignment from a fan’s point-of-view, I wanted to know these things … what players shout, what coaches say, what the catcher says to the home plate umpire.
Cal Hubbard, head of the American League umpires, led me to believe he couldn’t see the Indians’ dugout and Umpire Romel said he didn’t think he’d be looking in that direction, either. But Kerby Ferrell, Indians’ manager, passed the word. “The boys don’t like it. They said this ain’t no ladies aid society,” Farrell said.
At Yankee Stadium, I struck out.
Joe Trimble of the New York Daily News, chairman of the writers’ association, allowed discrimination against female reporters to be perpetuated. I didn’t really care because my seat alongside the Indians’ dugout was far superior to the upper deck and I could see and hear much better.
I think I’ll be content returning to my cityside duties on The Cleveland News after this eastern tour. I may not know more about the fine points of Mr. Doubleday’s game, but I’ll be a better fan and rooter, for the Indians. I’ve caught the team spirit from the rookies coming up, kids like Maris, Kenny Kuhn (a real baby doll), Russ Nixon and Rocky Colavito. These boys have the baseball spark.
I don’t get free hotdogs and soft drinks on my ordinary assignment, but this baseball deal is no gravy train for sports writers. When a ball player finishes his nine innings, he is through. A sports writer’s job is just starting. I’ve learned after night games it is 2 and 3 a.m. before stories are finished.
My big complaint about traveling with a team is the time lost on trains, buses airplanes or the few hours before games when there isn’t much to do except see movies.
I started out with high ideas, thinking I’d get a few ball players to sight-see, visit zoos or museums. I got a few handsome athletes to walk around a block, and a trio to pause in a fun house. The rest of the time was spent lobby-sitting, at movies or eating in hotel restaurants.
I found players more clothes conscious than women. My boys on the Indians are fashion plates. Bob Avila is No. 1 in the clothes department with well-coordinated colors, from socks to ties. I pumped from him the fact that he owns two tuxedos for formal wear back in Mexico. I had been teasing pitcher Cal McLish about clothes, trying to convince him that a tux is an elegant costume women like.
“Not for me,” said the broad-shouldered Oklahoman. “I’m just a desert rat. You’ll never get me in one of those.”
When some other adventurous gal reporter breaks down the barriers here in Boston, I’ll be back. It’s a nice town, and it looks better when the Indians win.