I try to ask my eighteen-year-old niece what it is like being a young woman studying biochemistry. She has no complaints. I try to engage her about being a woman in a traditionally male field, but she doesn’t see it that way. My niece is voting for Bernie Sanders. Most of the people I love are voting for Bernie, but I am voting for Hillary, and the reason is baseball.
At nine years old, I had three older brothers and a mother who worked full time. Our neighbors, an older couple, who lived across the street and down a few houses, treated me with kindness and went out of their way to spend time with me.
Mr. Carlson worked for the Department of Fish and Game, and he would bring me eggs from all kinds of birds. He would meticulously label them for me, much like my grandfather labeled rocks for me, and I had an impressive collection. My favorite was an ostrich egg because it was so big, but I didn’t pick it up often, afraid as I was of dropping it and having whatever was inside splatter all over the floor, and possibly, me.
Mrs. Carlson would invite me to their house and ask me to do her hair. She would allow me to put hot rollers in it and comb through the thin curls after they had “set.” While the rollers were doing their thing, I would look at Mrs. Carlson’s bell collection. She had hundreds of bells all lined up on shelves throughout her living room.
One day while I was styling Mrs. Carlson’s hair I told her my one dream was to play baseball. I wasn’t the kind of girl who dreamed of my future wedding, or going to Disneyland or being a princess. I wanted to play baseball like my older brothers even though it meant I would be the first girl in our town to play little league.
Mrs. Carlson laughed when I told her my dream was to be on a little league team. She told me that no girl who loved her would ever play baseball. It wasn’t something that girls do.
I had never given voice to my dream before that day, and I never would again. Silently and despondently I put the dream of baseball behind me.
Not too long after that, my mom got married, and we moved to another town. I would occasionally take out my baseball mitt and play catch with my new step brothers, or my biological brothers or neighborhood kids.
As I grew older, I never replaced the dream of being a baseball player. I wasn’t particularly passionate about anything.
When Hillary Clinton gets up to bat this November she is going to knock that ball out of the park and rather than be on the sidelines as a cheerleader, I am going to grab my mitt, get on the field and play whatever position I want.
That’s the way we do it now, Mrs. Carlson. Girls can finally do anything they want, baseball included.