In May of 1973, a 12-year-old girl in pigtails from Ypsilanti, Michigan made history by taking on the largest youth sports organization in America. Carolyn King was simply looking to play baseball when she tried out for a spot in the Ypsilanti American Little League. She went to the tryouts with her younger brother, and impressed the coaches with her strong throwing arm and her speed. The coach of the Orioles was looking for a center fielder, and he thought that Carolyn might fit the bill, so he drafted her. One problem: In 1951, the National Little League organization in Williamsport, Pa., had enacted a rule that specifically said girls were not eligible to play. National officials felt the sport of baseball was too dangerous for girls, so they decided to restrict their leagues to boys. The National Little League threatened to pull the local league’s charter if Carolyn played, but the City of Ypsilanti said that if she didn’t play, the league couldn’t use the city’s fields. When she suited up for the Orioles in their first game – making history in the process – the National Little League followed through on its threat to pull the local league’s charter. That set up a summer of controversy and showdowns in Ypsilanti that strongly divided the community as the case headed to federal court. It made national headlines in 1973, and landed the story on the evening news. In the middle of it all was a 12-year-old in pigtails who simply wanted to play baseball. Carolyn’s case and the national uproar it caused prompted National Little League officials to drop their boys-only rule. In 1974, thanks to Carolyn King, girls became eligible to play Little League baseball. The Ypsilanti American Little League founded in 1953, is the oldest Little League in Michigan and the first in the world to include a female player
“The Girl in Centerfield,” a feature-length documentary produced by Detroit-based Stunt3 Multimedia, is the story of Carolyn King’s fight to play Little League baseball. Using interviews, stock footage, and re-creation, Stunt3 will weave together the drama of the summer of 1973 when the nation watched as the city of Ypsilanti went head-to-head with Williamsport, Pennsylvania and the institution of Little League Baseball. The film is scheduled for release in the summer of 2010. On Thursday, July 19, 2010, 7-8:30pm Ypsilanti District Library will premiere the trailer for the documentary and host a personal appearance by Carolyn King Minot.
Carolyn King Minot being interviewed for”The Girl in Centerfield”