A History Lesson With Booze ®

One Strike for Feminism: Baseball’s First Female Umpire

Around this time back in 1972, Bernice Gera became the first female umpire in pro baseball history... and then immediately resigned. Learn why she took herself out of the ballgame, then steal home to mix this All-American cocktail.

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Umpire masks line a bench at the indoor batting cages during the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring on January 27, 2011 at the Houston Astros Spring Training Complex in Kissimmee, Florida. Jim Evans was a Major League Umpire for 28 years that included umpiring four World Series. Many of his students have gone on to work on all levels of baseball including the Major Leagues. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

You’re supposed to get three strikes in baseball. Bernice Gera? Got one.

Bernice was born loving baseball. As a kid, she could bat harder than the guys. But she was a 36-year-old housewife before she suddenly got an idea: To become the first female umpire. She headed to Florida for Umpire school… and the trouble began.

They had no dorms for ladies. So, Bernice spent the six-week course in a motel. Then, she signed a minor-league contract… which was revoked 6 days later, partly because the league found players’ language too salty for a lady. She called foul and sued for discrimination.

Years later, she won! Sort of. In June 1972, Bernice umped her first minor league game, and then quit when she realized the other umps just wouldn’t cooperate with her during the game. According to her husband, she later said, “I could beat them in the courts, but not on the field.”

Bernice didn’t abandon baseball. She went on to work in PR for the New York Mets. Her umpire’s uniform now hangs in the baseball hall of fame. To this day, no woman has ever umped a regular-season major-league game.

The Past-Time

Photo credit: Elana Lepkowski, stirandstrain.com
Photo credit: Elana Lepkowski, stirandstrain.com

Called by Larry Foor, bar manager at The Ravenous Pig in Winter Park, Florida — a town that’s in the ballpark of America’s only two professional umpiring schools.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 an ounce Hum liqueur (or any rum if you can’t find this ode to the Cubbies)
  • 2 ounces of vodka (Larry used one from local outfit Flagler Spirits)
  • 1/2 an ounce sour mix (3 parts lime juice, 1 part lemon juice, 1 part simple syrup)

Instructions:

In a shaker with ice add ingredients, shake and strain into a rocks glass full of ice. Top with a little champagne… to celebrate a future when women ump in the Majors. Add a citrus twist if desired. Take a big swing – er, swig – and call sexism “out.”

  • Liliane

    What a missed opportunity to follow up the story with a drink to Ms. Gera rather than baseball.