SPORTS

‘A League Of Their Own’ Women’s Baseball Game Raises More Than $13k

Jul 3, 2022, 7:09 PM
whoopie-girls-pose-for-team-photo...
Members of the Ogden Whoopie Girls pose for a team photo prior to a game at Lindquist Field on July 2, 2022.

SALT LAKE CITY – It began as an idea to celebrate an iconic film under the lights; it ended as a chance for 34 women to play baseball at Ogden’s Lindquist Field, raising more than $13k for teenage suicide prevention.

The idea of commemorating the 30th anniversary of ‘A League of Their Own’, a baseball classic centered around a World War II era women’s baseball league that played from 1943-54 was obvious.

Ever the showman, Ogden Raptors Owner and President Dave Baggott wanted to do more than just screen the film for fans at the Raptors home ballpark, Lindquist Field. “We should put two women’s teams together and play an actual baseball game,” Baggott declared when the topic was broached.

After the back and forth of gauging interest and planning an event of this magnitude, Baggott held open tryouts to build the teams.

When all was said and done, a traveling softball team managed by local Ogden businessman Justin Nakaishi served as the ‘visiting’ Junction City Dolls team. Baggott named himself manager of the ‘home’ Ogden Whoopie Girls.

But this night was about so much more than a baseball game.

“If these ladies go out there and can do something to convince a young girl to keep playing softball, or maybe play on their little league baseball team, or high school baseball team, God bless them, go for it,” Baggott said before the game. “I admire people who are willing to take risks and fail rather than be afraid to take any kind of risk at all. These girls have more character on the baseball field than any men’s team I’ve ever been associated with. They’re playing for family and friends and playing for pride. There’s nothing better than that.”

Fans poured in once the gates opened. Families staked out spots in the stands while kids watched their moms warm up on the field. One die-hard fan even sported a Jimmy Dugan Rockford Peaches jersey, an ode to the character played by Tom Hanks in the 30-year old film. 1,887 fans turned out to watch the charity driven contest.

For the players, these were moments they wouldn’t soon forget.

“It’s super awesome and humbling to be one of the first girls to get to do this,” said Whoopie Girls player and mother of four, Layton resident Jamie Hamblin. “It doesn’t matter your gender, your age, nothing. If you put your mind to it, you can do it. It’s awesome to just show younger girls that you can do anything if you just put your mind to it.”

Ashley Dennis of the Dolls echoes Hamblin’s comments, “For little girls, teenage girls and adult women. It’s unlimited on what you can do. Most of us old and young, we’re playing on a baseball field. We grew up our entire lives playing softball, but nothing can stop us. We’re here, we’re gonna ball out together and anything is possible.”

Whoopie Dolls starting pitcher Ashley McFarland, who celebrated her 34th birthday on July 1, said it had been almost 20 years since she stepped on a mound. “I used to play baseball until I was 14. My brother asked me to switch from baseball to softball because he didn’t want to play high school ball with me.”

That didn’t stop her from jumping at the opportunity to play in this event, “I quit playing slow pitch about a year and a half ago but it’s a great reason to be here trying to raise money for suicide prevention. This is a great opportunity to give back to the community. It’s a great community event.”

Following the third inning, Baggott announced to the crowd that the Raptors would be donating $2,500 to Hope Squad, a group that focuses on youth suicide prevention through organizing peer-to-peer support groups in schools. Two generous fans pledged to match the Raptors contribution while two additional people pledged $1,000. Many others offered various amounts.

Add to that baseballs signed by each team that were auctioned off and a 50/50 raffle, north of $13,000 was raised for Hope Squad.

The money raised on a night like this leaves the final score inconsequential.

“If this game tonight or anything the Raptors do convinces somebody to maybe smile and realize it’s not so bad and not consider taking their own life. That’s worth everything we could possibly imagine,” Baggott said of the events goal.

The second women’s baseball charity game is scheduled for Monday, July 11 with first pitch set for 7:30 p.m. (MST) at Lindquist Field. Proceeds from that evening’s event will benefit Live On, a state sponsored mental health and suicide prevention campaign. Admission to the game is free of charge and all are welcome. There will be a fireworks show following the game

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