60 years later, Yankees fan Gwen Goldman gets to be bat girl
[July 1, 2021: Matt Kelly]
Six decades after 10-year-old Gwen Goldman wrote a letter to the Yankees, her favorite team is making a lifelong fan’s dream come true.
It was in 1961 when Goldman wrote to the Yankees expressing her dream of being a bat girl for the Bronx Bombers. Goldman explained, correctly, that she could handle job’s responsibilities just as well as a boy could.
Then-Yankees general manager Roy Hamey sent back a letter that still hangs on Goldman’s living room wall, but in a sign of misplaced assumptions of the time, he declined her request.
“While we agree with you that girls are certainly as capable as boys,” Hamey wrote, “and no doubt would be an attractive addition on the playing field, I am sure you can understand that in a game dominated by men a young lady such as yourself would feel out of place in a dugout.”
Goldman’s daughter, Abby, forwarded Hamey’s letter to general manager Brian Cashman, and on Wednesday -- 60 years to the day after Hamey wrote to Goldman -- the Yankees are kicking off their 2021 HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere and Excel) by righting that wrong. Cashman and the rest of the team’s front office surprised Goldman with a new piece of mail on official Yankees letterhead. It was a letter inviting Goldman to be the team’s honorary bat girl (both pregame and during the game) for New York’s upcoming matchup against the Angels on Monday at Yankee Stadium.
“Although your long-ago correspondence took place 60 years ago [six years before I was born],” Cashman read from his letter in a surprise Zoom call with Goldman and her family, “I feel compelled to resurrect your original request and do what I can to bring your childhood dream to life.
“Here at the Yankees, we have championed to break down gender barriers in our industry. It is an ongoing commitment rooted in the belief that a woman belongs everywhere a man does, including the dugout. And despite the fact that six decades have passed since you first aspired to hold down the position as a New York Yankees Bat Girl, it is not too late to reward and recognize the ambition you showed in writing that letter to us as a 10-year-old girl.”
Goldman was visibly stunned by the surprise call and invitation. When she was presented with the new letter from the Yankees, she immediately recognized the stationary.
“It looks like the same one that’s been hanging on my bulletin board since I was 10 years old!” Goldman exclaimed.
“It is my honor and my dream,” Goldman replied when she heard Cashman’s invitation. “I will be there!”
Yankees ace Gerrit Cole even volunteered to stand alongside Goldman on the field Monday and give her some tips.
“I only get to play 32 games a year,” said Cole. “So the other 130, I’m working the dugout. I can show you all the sneaky routes and quick ways to get in, when you have to give the balls to the umpire, where you keep the bats in case their broken. I can help you out with the flow.”
Goldman’s long-awaited debut on Monday kicks off five straight days of special events in the Bronx as part of 2021 HOPE Week. Each day, the Yanks will reach out to an individual, family or organization worthy of recognition and support, providing honorees with a day celebrating their accomplishments.
Monday’s opener will help a super fan realize a day she should have enjoyed more than half a century ago.
“When they say dreams come true? This is it,” said Goldman.
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