Pam Postema
Photo Courtesy The Baseball Hall of Fame Library, Cooperstown, N.Y.

Born 1954

Minor leagues 1977-88
Major league spring training, 1988-89
Hall of Fame Game (Yankees vs. Braves), 1988

Pam Postema followed in the footsteps of Bernice Gera [See the footnote about Gera below] and applied to the Al Somers Umpire School in Florida in 1976. After ignoring her original application, then rejecting her second one because the school didn't have proper facilities for women, Somers relented and accepted her into the school.

That season, 130 students were admitted. Thirty of them quit or were dismissed; Postema made it through, graduating high in her class. She spent three months looking for a job at the high school, college, or semi-pro levels, and was just about to give up when she got a letter offering her a job in the rookie Gulf Coast League.

She umpired there for two seasons, then spent two more with the Single-A Florida State League. After another two years at the AA level, she made it to the top of the minors, Triple-A baseball, with the Pacific Coast League.

Although many players were supportive and spoke highly of Postema's skill as an umpire, other men felt differently. At one game she arrived at home plate to find a frying pan, with a note telling her where she could go with it.

Pam umpired at the AAA level for six years, always considered a "prospect" for the majors, but never getting the call. In 1988 she was invited to umpire major league games during spring training, and later that year Commissioner Bart Giamatti asked her to officiate at the Hall of Fame Game between the Yankees and the Braves. Pam saw those two opportunities as hope for a major league contract.

But Giamatti died in 1989, and Pam Postema's hopes for a major league spot died with him. After 13 years umpiring in the minor leagues, the Triple-A alliance cancelled her contract in December of 1989. She filed a federal sex-discrimination lawsuit, declaring, "I believe I belong in the major leagues. If it weren't for the fact that I'm a woman, I would be there right now." The suit was settled out of court.

In 1992, Pam Postema published a book called "You've Got to Have Balls to Make it in This League."

In 1969, Bernice Gera (1932-1992) was the first woman to go through umpiring school and get a contract to work in the minor leagues. The day before she was going to umpire her first game, she received a letter from the president of the NAPBL (the minor league system), informing her that her contract had been rescinded. No reasons were given. Gera took the case to the New York State Human Rights Commission, which ruled in her favor. The NAPBL appealed, and the appellate court upheld the ruling in Gera's favor. The league appealed again, and was again rebuffed. A year later, without giving any reasons, the league gave Gera a contract and told her to report on June 23, 1972. She umpired a single game, and then resigned. "I was physically, mentally, and financially drained," she said. "It is hard to get used to having people spit at you and threaten your life."


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