NEW YORK (AP) — Gwen Goldman exchanged fist bumps with the New York Yankees, a team she had been admiring for decades from afar. On Monday she walked onto the field as a bat girl at the age of 70 and waved to the crowd. A full 60 years after she was turned down because of her gender.
Shaking with excitement, she beamed while recounting how it felt to be at Yankee Stadium on this day for the game against the Los Angeles Angels.
“I don’t know where to start, of which was the best, what did I enjoy the most?” Goldman said during a news conference in the fourth inning.
“The whole piece, from walking in the front door of the stadium at Gate 2, to coming up to a locker with my name on it that said Gwen Goldman, and suiting up, then walking out onto the field. It took my breath away. It’s obviously taking my words away also,” Goldman said. “It was a thrill of a lifetime — times a million. And I actually got to be out in the dugout, too. I threw out a ball, I met the players. Yeah, it goes on and on. They had set up a day for me that is something that I never would have expected.”
Goldman retired in 2017 as a social worker at Stepping Stones Preschool, a public school in Westport, Connecticut. She used the Hebrew word “dayenu” — which translates to “it would have been enough” — to describe the different parts of her experience.
“It just kept coming and coming,” she said.
Goldman had been rejected by then-Yankees general manager Roy Hamey, who wrote her in a letter on June 23, 1961: “While we agree with you that girls are certainly as capable as boys, and no doubt would be an attractive addition on the playing field, I am sure you can understand that it is a game dominated by men a young lady such as yourself would feel out of place in a dugout.”
Current Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he had been forwarded an email written by Goldman’s daughter, Abby. In a letter dated June 23, Cashman wrote, “it is not too late to reward and recognize the ambition you showed in writing that letter to us as a 10-year-old girl.”
“Some dreams take longer than they should to be realized, but a goal attained should not dim with the passage of time,” Cashman added. “I have a daughter myself, and it is my sincere hope that every little girl will be given the opportunity to follow her aspirations into the future.”
Wearing a full Yankees uniform, Goldman threw out a ceremonial first pitch to New York player Tyler Wade, then stood alongside manager Aaron Boone for the national anthem.
“I think it’s really cool,” Boone said after meeting her. “I think you’re going to see her probably take balls out at some point to home plate. … Hopefully it’s an experience of a lifetime for her and a long one in coming.”
New York extended the invitation as part of the Yankees’ annual HOPE week, which stands for Helping Others Persevere & Excel.
She posed with the umpires when the lineup cards were brought out. After the third inning, the Yankees played a video that included the letters and a Zoom session in which Cashman, assistant general manager Jean Afterman and pitcher Gerrit Cole were among those informing her of the invitation.
She then was introduced to the crowd, walked up the Yankees dugout steps onto the field and waved her cap as fans applauded.
“I didn’t hold it against them. I loved the Yankees,” she said. “I never in my wildest dreams — never thought that 60 years later, Brian Cashman would make this become a reality.”