By Chelsea Janes
AWSM Intern, MLB.com / Yale University
CHICAGO—Women didn’t even have the right to vote when the Cubs’ Wrigley Field was built in 1914. What a difference a century makes.
When renovations on the classic ballpark begin later this year, the project will be partially under direction of Major League Baseball’s first openly-gay female owner, Laura Ricketts, whose family purchased the Cubs in 2009. She has vowed to protect the stadium’s integrity, to preserve baseball tradition even as she tries to break with it.
“Even now there are so few women in sports, particularly baseball – it’s a male world,” Ricketts said. “I hear the argument that women don’t play baseball, but there are male coaches and owners in women’s sports everywhere… I don’t see why women can’t do similar things in baseball and other sports.”
Ricketts served as the keynote speaker at the Association for Women in Sports Media’s member’s-only event at Wrigley Field Thursday night. In keeping with her place as a pioneer for women in sports and with AWSM’s goals of advancing women in sports media, Ricketts talked about her desire to see women continue to push their unique perspective into the world of professional sports.
“Women bring a different voice to sports,” Ricketts said. “So many women are doing such great work in management and the media, whether it’s broadcasting or writing, etc. But there still aren’t enough.”
Ricketts spoke to AWSM members following a tour of Wrigley Field that included stops in the press box, dugout, and the sacred confines of the Cubs’ clubhouse. She shared stories of days in the not-too-distant past when women weren’t allowed in professional sports’ press boxes or didn’t have bathrooms of their own and had to share with spectators.
And while Ricketts and her brothers, who purchased the Cubs in 2009, plan to give the team and ballpark a fresh face, Ricketts told AWSM she hopes to use her unique position as a high-ranking, female sports executive to change the face of the world of sports, too.
“I am fortunate to be in a unique position, and I hope to use it to further opportunities for other women to do similar things,” Ricketts said. “Organizations like AWSM have done a great job to empower women to make their mark in the world of sports, and I’m so glad to have the chance to work with this group.”