By Mark Hallum
Until President Gerald Ford signed a 1974 bill into law lifting a ban on girls playing Little League baseball across the country, America’s greatest pastime was reserved only for the boys.
Former Bayside resident Robbin Miller was one of the first girls in northeast Queens to brush off society’s expectations and step up to bat in the mid-to-late-1970s. She is putting her story out into the world with her book “Breaking the Barriers: A Girl’s Dream to Play Little League with the Boys,” available on Amazon.
In 1975, Miller signed up for a local team in Bayside and claims she was the object of ridicule, something that persists to this day, Miller said in an interview with TimesLedger.
“Girls who play baseball and Little League, even now, by the time they get to middle school they’re discouraged from continuing and told to go into softball,” Miller said. “The law was passed in 1974 by President Ford, and here it is 40 years later and there’s still some backlash against girls who want to play Little League.”
Photos of Miller from 1975 show her in the green uniform of the Birchwood Pharmacy Team.
Miller remembers the start of the season as the most intense with the crowd directing jeers at the Miller and the other girls who had also signed up to play that year.
“When I’d got booed with the three other girls during the [Bayside Little League Parade] and after the parade during the ceremony of throwing out the first ball to us with 300 boys booing at you – it was really something,” Miller said. “Here I am turning 10, you know. You just deal with it.”
Despite the shouts from crowd, Miller said none of the girls cried.
Miller attended PS 41 and says these were transformative years for the community as students and families from other nationalities and ethnicities began settling in Bayside.
The most support for Miller’s interest in playing baseball with the boys came from her mother, who championed the idea that a woman is capable of anything a man is.
Miller believes her writings on her years in Little League baseball is a good story for elementary school students to read as a work of historical importance.
“I would like girls to be inspired by my book and to stand up for themselves with grit and determination to play baseball with boys and to never let anyone tell them what they can and cannot do,” Miller said. “That’s a life lesson that I got out of [these experiences] and I want girls to get that those crucial skills of determination will help you in life.”
The former Bayside resident now lives in Massachusetts and dedicates her book to her parents, husband and son.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall