Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Her name is Ria and she crouches on the sand

Ever since reading Pam Postema's autobiography a few years ago, I've thought it'd be really cool for a female umpire to actually make it to the major leagues. In fact, I'm fairly sure it'll happen someday, it's just a matter of when.

Ria Cortesio's taking another step towards that goal Thursday afternoon, when she'll be umpiring for a Diamondbacks-Cubs spring training game. She'll be the first female umpire to work a game between major league teams since Postema in 1989. (Yes, the Cubs still do count as a major league team.) Cortesio officiated at the Home Run Derby and the Futures Game at the all-star events last year as well.

In some ways, I feel like I shouldn't make a big deal out of this. For the most part, people don't usually write articles about random umpires out of AA working at spring training games, so to call attention to Cortesio just because of her gender seems a little unfair. Undoubtedly, she has to work under twice as much scrutiny as male counterparts in the profession because she's a special case. (Seriously, it was bad enough for me being a computer science major in college in the mid-90's. When you're one of four women in an algorithms lecture of 300 students, you can be pretty sure most people know who you are. It's really no fun.)

At the same time, though, I just wanted to say "Good for her!", and I hope she gets promoted to AAA this year -- for being a good umpire, not for being a woman, of course.

A few articles/quotes about Cortesio:

"Where I grew up, half the people are Cubs fans and half are Cardinals fans," she said. "I'm one of the smart ones." -- Ria Cortesio article/bio at from 2000

"I get paid to run around a baseball field and yell at people all day. It doesn't get any better than that." -- Cortesio article at from 2003

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