Two years ago today, I became Girl At The Game.
There was never really a plan. The alliterative name popped into my head, so I built a website and started writing. I didn’t really think about what it could be. Or rather, I had no clue what it would become: my passion, my career, my identity, my life. I figured it would be a fun little hobby, a place where I could wax poetic about the Red Sox and how much I love David Ortiz; my plans for it didn’t extend much further than that.
That changed pretty quickly, though I do talk about David Ortiz a lot. I rediscovered my love of the history of this game, I got into stats, I started getting interested in other teams and players, watching games that weren’t my team’s. My passion for the game grew into the only career path I’ve ever truly wanted since my dreams of being the first female pitcher for the Red Sox were dashed as a kid. Now, my favorite stories to tell are about athletes who are doing amazing things for their communities. My least favorite, but equally important, are the many times I’ve had to speak out about issues ranging from fair pay for minor leaguers, to the need for extended netting, and most of all, the improper handling of domestic violence and abuse in sports. I will never stop fighting against the rules and systems that enable these patterns to continue.
Throughout the past two years, I’ve been fortunate enough to have some amazing experiences and meet and work with so many incredible people. There have been milestones I never dreamed could be possible, like interviewing the ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball team, visiting the Dodgers booth, and getting to spend the afternoon at Fenway with Jessica Mendoza. I’ve chatted with Kevin Millar about 2004, told Reggie Jackson that David Ortiz was “my Mr. October,” (he didn’t like that!), and spent time with some of my idols, like Pedro Martinez, Tim Wakefield, Keith Foulke, and Oil Can Boyd. Women and men in this industry who I’ve looked up to for so long have become mentors, sounding boards, and friends. I attended – or rather, survived – the longest game in postseason history, and watched my beloved team become champions for the fourth time in fifteen years.
This website, this career I’m building, and my team have gotten me through some of the darkest and hardest times in my life. It was easy last year, to write about the Red Sox when they were so unbelievably good. But the way I know this is what I want to do is because I’m still doing it now, amidst an 8-game losing streak, some of the worst pitching I’ve ever seen, and the increasing likelihood that I’ll have a lot of free time when the calendar page flips to October. Being Girl At The Game keeps me focused when I’m feeling adrift, and thankfully distracted when other parts of my life have, at times, come crashing down.
But it isn’t always been easy being Girl At The Game. In fact, many days, it’s really hard to deal with the people who doubt me, question me, and send me hateful, threatening messages, telling me I’m not good enough, not smart enough, don’t have the right “stuff” (meaning genitalia) to be in this business, even that they hope I get killed. But it’s made me stronger. I’ve had to develop a thicker skin, and I work every day at tuning out negativity. Adversity helps me grow as much, if not more than support. And while baseball takes up about 99% of my time and energy, I have a really wonderful life outside of this sport I love, which is especially crucial when the Red Sox are playing like they are.
There are so many things I envision for the future of this brand and for myself. Kids apparel, a podcast, the book I’ve been working on (it’s coming along, slowly but surely!), expansion into other sports, bringing on more writers, and seeing every ballpark in America. I hope I become a better writer, and more confident on camera. I want to do it all, and I hope that I can work hard enough and be lucky enough to do even more.
If you’ve been with me since Day 1, or only just joined the fun, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Getting to talk sports with you makes the good times even better and the bad times bearable. And a special thank-you to all of the girls and women who tell me I inspire you: you motivate me to keep moving forward, to be better every day. We are all Girls At The Game; I do this for all of us.
Gabrielle, Girl At The Game