Original

Havana Blum: Now’s her inning

This is the final story in the SLR Original series on Title IX (See previous)

Havana
(Photo by Cindy C. Cottle)

Lastly, we come to Havana Blum, one of the youngest athletes I know. She’s 10, and after my mom met Havana’s at a Shakespeare festival in 2012, my parents have become surrogate grandparents for Havana and her siblings, all actors (Havana has appeared on “The Walking Dead”).

But most relevant to this story, Havana is the only girl on her Raleigh-area Little League team. She loves hitting, and when we talked, her face crinkled a bit in annoyance when I suggested that it would be even cooler to love playing defense, since that’s where you spend most of your time on a baseball field.

We talked a little about a fielder’s dance of anticipating where the batter might hit the ball, based on what you know about the batter and what pitch you know your teammate is throwing. It is those moments of planning that make baseball special, those moments before the pitch when everything is possible. 

Havana understood what I was saying, but surely, an appreciation of these frozen moments comes more easily with age and time. When you are a young athlete, action is far superior to contemplation. Havana would rather play than watch a game, and I surely understand that, especially when it comes to baseball, which is best experienced in person, as close to the action as possible.

I grew into someone who deeply loves baseball, though looking back at my childhood, the month I played Little League in the summer of 1976 was a hassle; I was the only girl on my team, too.

I told Havana that as long as she loves the game, to keep playing it, even if she’s the only girl. I said I wished I had known to fight for it when it was my turn. 

She has grown up having access to baseball, though, so it’s not something she has to fight for. Girls today have other battles to fight.

Ellyn Ritterskamp is a journalist and teacher who loves thinking about sport and ethics, especially if there is baseball involved. She lives in Charlotte, NC, has appeared on three TV game shows, and has visited all the parks in Major League Baseball, the South Atlantic League, and the Carolina League.

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