hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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May 9, 2013

Sharon Poole gave girls a Little League incentive

At a time when girls were prevented from playing Little League baseball, Sharon Poole certainly opened a few doors — first in Haverhill and then across the country.

Because of her stubborn persistence to join a team, she broke barriers and gave the sport new meaning.

The year was 1971 and I was enamored by this 12-year-old girl from Haverhill whose story wound up making Life Magazine and just about every TV network across the land. In essence, she put Haverhill on the map and sent reporters and cameramen scampering to our ball fields.

It’s Little League season in our city when hundreds of young boys and girls look for a spot in the playing field. Many teams will have a fair representation of girls in uniform. They’ll be counted among the players with equal pride and respect.

They will all be peers sharing the same bench and the very same infield. In many cases, you won’t be able to tell the difference, with the girls’ hair nestled inside their caps. A ponytail protruding from the back may be your only clue.

They hit and field the same way as boys and there have been cases where they’ve even made the varsity team at the high school level, same as in other sports.

Much like the city’s basketball marathon I resurfaced in an earlier column, I made the Sharon Poole controversy my business. It got so annoying, she probably hated to see me approaching, given all this attention and hullabaloo.

I’m looking at a portfolio of stories and briefs that were compiled and saved from that year. For some reason, I’ve saved this and just happened to run across it in my file cabinet, possibly because it won a Golden Press Award the following year from the Massachusetts American Auxiliary.

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