Friday, September 16, 2011

Yankees do women justice in magazine tribute

So I finally finished reading the entire edition of Yankees Magazine honoring women (hey, it was more than 200 pages thick) and I have to say the New York Yankees did a terrific job in paying tribute to the women working behind the scenes in the organization and the female family members of several famous male athletes as well as highlighting the accomplishments of some of the greatest female athletes of our time.

There was the typical self promotion in the issue such as the six-page piece on the charitable endeavors of the Steinbrenner women and short descriptions of the good works done by the wives of several current members of the New York Yankees. I was looking forward to reading about the Steinbrenner women, but in talking to the magazine, they seemed to forget George Steinbrenner’s old adage: if you do something nice for someone and more than two people know about it, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.

The stories I enjoyed the most were the profiles of the wives of former Major League Baseball players talking openly about both the joys and the struggles of life. My personal favorite was reading Rachel Robinson, Jackie Robinson’s widow, talk candidly about the difficulties he encountered in breaking baseball’s color barrier, including the terrifying death threats. Mrs. Robinson also faced a problem in her marriage that is unfortunately still typical for a lot of working women: that her desire to have her own career created tension in her marriage. But she didn’t let that stop her from pursuing a successful career in nursing, which is truly inspring.

I also enjoyed the piece about Arlene Howard, wife of Yankees great Elston Howard. Her vivid descriptions of her husband and the way the game was played during his time were both enjoyable and enlightening, particularly for younger baseball fans who might not have much appreciation for how much the game has changed.

The issue is not all about baseball, of course. There’s a column by Tara Sullivan about gender equality for women covering sports, something we female baseball fans probably take for granted since we see Kimberly Jones covering the Yankees on television almost every night or listen to Suzyn Waldman broadcasting Yankee games on the radio. There are also plenty of profiles about famous women athletes and coaches such as Jennie Finch, Mia Hamm and Billie Jean King. But the magazine eventually gets back to baseball with a story of a father’s first baseball game with his young daughter, which I thought was a sweet story although I couldn’t help but wonder how the family got selected for such an extensive profile.

Female baseball fans of all ages should enjoy reading this special edition of Yankees magazine. But set aside some time because reading it will take a while.

Thanks to White House photographer Eric Draper via Wikipedia for the photo of Rachel Robinson.

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