A Woman to Know: Bernice Gera

I could beat them on the courts, but I can't beat them on the field. — Bernice

(image via The Day, Google News Project)

Bernice Gera was the first female umpire in professional baseball. For one game, at least.

She'd passed umpiring school in Florida with flying colors, but then wasn't picked up for minor league play. "I would have done anything," she said. "I would have shined the ballplayers' shoes. That's how much I loved baseball." She filed suit for discrimination and fought five years to be allowed on the field. When she finally won in 1972, though, the other umpires refused to heed her calls — so Bernice quit halfway through the fifth inning of her very first game. "Umpires must work as a team," she told reporters. "But I went on the field alone. I had no partner."

Bernice didn't quit baseball for good. She worked the rest of her life in communications for the New York Mets, and after her death in 1992, the team scattered her ashes at Shea Stadium.

~*Note:*~ Thanks to Victoria Edel for recommending Bernice as a woman to know! As I told Victoria, any reader of Nora's is a friend of mine. <3 So if you want to read more about Bernie, definitely read Nora Ephron's essay, "First Lady Umpire" (and take a peek here). And then read The (New London) Day's piece on Bernice (excerpted above). The headline is taken from a Bernice quote, reported after that disastrous game in 1972: "The 40-year-old housewife from New York said Wednesday at a news conference that she was not calling for women to boycott baseball games. 'Every woman should think for herself.'"

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