JAMAICA PLAIN — Baseball has always been a boys sport.
As the famous quote from the film "A League of Their Own" says: “There’s no crying in baseball!”
If you’re a girl, you don’t play baseball. You play softball, right?
“I’ve never played softball,” said Sophia Buzzelle, first baseman of the Boston Slammers. “I only play baseball.”
“I started playing softball this year,” said Alyssa Slamin, who plays shortstop and pitcher for the Boston Slammers. “It’s really different because you have to get your techniques and stuff different. It’s kind of…iffy.”
What’s questionable is anyone who doubts that girls can play baseball. If you’re one of those people, meet the Boston Slammers.
“They all love baseball,” said Karen Buzzelle, co-coordinator of the Boston Slammers. “Most of them have been playing baseball their whole lives.”
Alyssa Slamin is one of those girls.
“I started playing t-ball when I was five, then just proceeded to play,” she said.
The Slammers are an all-girls baseball team from Jamaica Plain. They were a dream created by parents who had their girls playing in the co-ed Regan league, where girls who wanted to play baseball had to play on a team with mostly boys.
“Some of them didn’t get the chance to play as much as the boys did,” said Rick Slamin, who is both the co-coordinator and head coach of the U13 Boston Slammers. “So we decided to bring a couple girls together and let them live their dream by playing baseball.”
This team was born from girls who are passionate about the sport.
“The Slammers started when a bunch of girls in our town’s youth league came together and they just loved playing ball,” said John Choe, co-coordinator and head coach of the U11 Boston Slammers.
“The idea was to get girls who play baseball together to practice their skills and sort of build a community so that they would keep playing,” Karen Buzzelle said. “They can feel more relaxed than when they were playing with the regular league.”
The Boston Slammers are only in their second year of existence, so scheduling games is a challenge. Since there aren’t that many all-girls teams like them out there, they play most of their current games against boys.
“They mostly play with boys, they’ve had a few games against boys,” Karen Buzzelle said. “And they hold their own.”
Before this team together and the girls did play on boys’ teams, there was often a different dynamic.
“I think boys just underestimate girls playing baseball since they’re used to them playing softball,” Alyssa Slamin said.
"Since I'm a girl, I'm pushed down from the boys," said Sophia Buzzelle. "Most of the time boys are 'better' than girls, so then all of us are pushed down and we have to try way harder than the boys do."
The coordinators and coaches see the difference.
“It’s a great opportunity for the girls,” Choe said. “Most of the girls are the only girl on their team, or there might be one or two, or for some of our girls, they’re the only girl in the league.”
“This gives them an opportunity to just be another player,” Karen Buzzelle said. “They’re not the girl on the team, they’re just the shortstop on the team or the pitcher or the catcher. And they’re just a regular baseball player.”
But the Slammers are earning their esteem.
“The boys I play with, they respect us,” Alyssa Slamin said.
The first weekend in August the Slammers will get their respect in Rockford, Illinois at the Baseball for All national girls tournament; home of the Rockford Peaches, one of the original teams from the first girls professional baseball league.
“They’re with 200 girls all who play baseball, they all share that love,” Karen Buzzelle said.
“It’s great to play with hundreds of other girls,” Choe said. “I think that’s going to be a unique experience for many of the players.”
But to get to Rockford, it takes money. So here’s what the Slammers have to say about why you should consider helping their cause.
“I’d say that most girls don’t get a chance to do this,” Sophia Buzzelle said. “To go to a national tournament for all girls because there’s not that many girls that play baseball. For us to go it’s a very special and important thing for us to do.”
“You’re supporting not just baseball or a baseball team,” Karen Buzzelle, Sophia’s mom, said. “You’re supporting girls breaking boundaries and doing things they maybe weren’t able to do 10-20 years ago.”
“I think we’re a great group to support,” Choe said. “What we represent is opportunity. I think the Slammers is about opportunity, it’s about empowerment and it’s about celebrating the joy of youth sports. I think the girls are doing it right and we’d appreciate any support we could get.”
So while there might be no crying in baseball, there are definitely girls.
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