© 2010 James Beattie Morison
Pennelle Jerritt was born and raised in a small town in the southern U.S. during the last part of the 19th century. She was the only girl in a family with eight boys and they often recruited her to play baseball.
Pennelle was someone special, and it wasn’t long before the town’s baseball team recruited her too. The reputation of the team, and its star, Pennelle, grew and they played throughout the south.
After one game a man approached Pennelle and said he was a scout for a major league team in New York. He signed her to try out for the team. By all reports the prospect of playing for a major league team trilled Pennelle and she could not sleep on her train ride to New York. Her reception in New York must have been a big disappointment.
“We can’t let a woman play baseball!”
Pennelle pulled out the contract and insisted on a try out. The team owner’s had to agree and she was off to the field. She appeared to enjoy the try out, and apparently so did the coach. The next day Pennelle signed a player contract, with a special clause that her gender must remain a secret.
Pennelle was not the star of the team, but she was a consistent performer. More importantly, she was popular with the fans, in spite of the stand offishness she had to adopt to maintain her secret.
All good things come to an end and so it was with the career of Pennelle Jerritt. It began late in Pennelle’s third season when the team got Robert “Big Bobby” Maxwell in a trade. Big Bobby was a fan of Pennelle’s and wanted to be friends. Pennelle, as always with her team mates, avoided him.
During the off season, Pennelle return home, where she could dress and act as a woman should. One day, while wearing a frilly new dress, she heard a knock at the door and dashed to answer it. Standing there on the veranda, jaw hanging and eyes popping, was “Big Bobby” Maxwell.
Before the first game of the next season the team held a small ceremony where they retired Pennelle’s number and presented her with her team jersey as memento. It was a cold day, but the coat she wore was not to keep her warm.
Years passed and the star of the team was Robert “Little Bobby” Maxwell Junior. His mother came to all the games and watched from the stands, wearing a tattered old team jersey and a look of pride, and maybe some envy, on her face.