The Golden Age of Baseball Cards™

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Vintage Baseball Card Blog

Baseball Cards for Cheerleaders

August 11, 2010

by William Szczepanek

First they added more teams, then they added divisions, then they added wild cards.  At first these decisions irritated the baseball purists, but over time they have become accepted.  What's next? Get ready for cheerleaders.

Cincinnati Reds cheerleaderA question that has entered my mind many times, but which I have never done any research on is "Why aren't there cheerleaders in baseball?". Just like "There is no crying in baseball", it makes no sense that there are no cheerleaders in baseball today, since cheerleaders exist for just about every other major sport, even hockey.  It seems to me that cheerleading could be a popular sidelight to baseball  games.  At least it might stop people from "doing the wave" or tossing a beach ball around the stands. When those activities become more important than the game itself then baseball has a real problem, not that it doesn't have problems. Back in the 1950s and 1960s there were no cheerleaders in baseball.  But, there were no cheerleaders in other professional sports either.

A Bit of Cheerleading History

Cheerleading was originally an all-male activity, the honor of first cheerleader going to Johnny Campbell of the University of Minnesota.  Females didn't get into the act until 1923, but that's quite different than cheerleading today. Back then cheerleaders actually did cheers and the spectators or student body followed and participated.  Cheerleading has now become more of a spectator sport. Cheerleading competitions today take a tremendous amount of skill and courage and even though it has not been recognized as a sport, there is a valid argument that it should be.

Dallas Cowboys CheerleaderBut that's not the cheerleading I'm talking about.  Cheerleading changed forever with the organization of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleading squad in 1972. Composed of adult dancers, with provocative outfits and dance steps, they gained the attention of a national audience and are to this day the most popular cheerleaders in sports. Many teams followed by allowing cheerleaders to do their thing along the sidelines. 

Baseball cheerleading is popular in many other countries including Japan and Mexico.  Colleges have no problem getting their cheerleaders squads on the Baseball Field. In China an exhibition game between the Dodgers and Padres featured Chinese cheerleaders. The Chinese just thought it was appropriate.

Cheerleading in MLB

Upon further investigation I found that some Major league teams have already implemented cheerleaders. How did I miss this?  In 1996 the Disney oriented Angel Wing Cheerleaders danced on the tops of the dugouts.  Angel fans, however didn't like it, heckled the girls and complained that they blocked their view. They were moved to an outfield stage and ultimately disbanded the following year. The Expos had the Molsen Ex Girls. The Toronto Blue Jays had the J-Cru Fan Activation Team  (J Force) and the Padres have the Pad squad. In 2003, the Marlin Mermaids began gyrating in Florida, the Reds followed with a squad of their own, which recently disbanded. Other groups include the Braves Tomahawk Team, the Diamondbacks Rallybacks, the White Sox Pride Crew, the new Angels Strike Force, the Phillies Ball Girls, the Cardinals Fredbirds and the Rays Ray Team.  The idea for many of these groups originated in the minor leagues and the members have other duties beside just dancing along the foul lines.

Marla CollinsTo my knowledge the first lady of baseball was Marla Collins who was a Ball Girl for the ultra-conservative Cubs in the early 1980s.  Though not a cheerleader, she helped by retrieving foul balls and supplying new baseballs to the home plate umpire.  Harry Caray did not hide his feelings about the appropriateness of Marla Collins on the baseball field. He loved the idea.  In one of his most famous bloopers on a cold day in Wrigley Field when Marla added some layers of clothing over her usual short shorts, he announced, "...we are seeing Marla without shorts for the first time."  After hearing his gaffe he burst into uncontrollable laughter for the remainder of the inning.  Marla Collins' work for the Cubs ended when she appeared in Playboy. It seems somewhat hypocritical that she would lose her job for over that, since it was her attractiveness and the skimpy clothes she wore that brought fun to the old ballpark.

When Should Cheerleaders Be Allowed on the Field?

In football, cheerleaders are safely on the sideline and there is enough time between plays that people will take notice.  If they dance during a play, most will not be watching them, unless those people really have no interest in football. And, no damage is done if they cheer during a play.
 Baseball is a little different.  A lot is going on when it seems like not much is going on. More can be happening between pitches than during a routine play. So, cheerleading needs to happen at the right time. When is the right time?

2958 Topps #296 Ryne DurenThere are plenty of right times for cheerleaders to perform during a baseball game. God knows there are many breaks where cheerleading could be a healthy respite from the routine.  Between innings is certainly not a problem. Watching a relief pitcher come in from the bullpen and warm up is not exactly exciting (unless you were watching Ryne Duren in the 1950s who occasionally threw warm ups over the catcher's head to the backstop).  With certain batters who adjust gloves, helmets, uniforms and body parts between pitches a diversion might be welcome.

There are many who argue that baseball games should be shortened.  Most baseball fans do not have a problem with the length of a game. The slow pace can be relaxing, but even then it does not provide ample time to get refreshments.  In today's entertainment, be it movies or video games, there is a requirement for constant action.  Cheerleading could fill a void now present in baseball.  Just keep them out of view during the action of the game.

Where Do They Cheer?

cheerleaders on the foul lineIn basketball the cheerleaders sit at the end of the court and do their routines during breaks and timeouts.  I am totally surprised more of them don't get hurt as players drive for the basket, get fouled and are sent headlong in the direction of fans, photographers and cheerleaders.

Now, where should cheerleaders cheer during baseball games.  The most popular spot seems to be on the top of the dugout, but where do they go when they are done? They should not be allowed in the dugout for obvious reasons.  If they sit on the field by the wall along the foul lines it would only be a matter of time before one of them gets hit by a foul ball. They definitely need a place to go between cheers where they won't be a distraction.  Doing cheers along the first and third base infield foul lines at defined times would be a great place and they would be more part of the game.

How Should They Cheer?

Any way they like, just don't block the view of the game.

How About Baseball Cards for Cheerleaders?

My Trading Cards actually has a page where you can create your own baseball cheerleader card with pictures information and graphics.

While this article should not be taken too seriously, there are aspects of baseball that need to change to bring it into the 21st century.  Cheerleading is readily accepted in other sports. Cheerleading done appropriately could work in baseball too. Cheerleading baseball cards for sale? ...in your dreams.  Baseball cards for a new professional female baseball players (A Future League of Their Own) sounds like a great idea.

Cheerleading in Afghanistan

Marlins MermaidThe topic of cheerleading during dull spots of a baseball game seems pretty banal overall. Where cheerleading could be put to good use is in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Five St. Louis Rams cheerleaders recently made a goodwill trip. If any cheerleaders deserve cards of themselves, these gals do. It would be great if our troops had cheerleaders greeting them after a day of combat, or other life threatening duties.  If it could reduce the effects of post traumatic stress syndrome, wouldn't it be worthwhile?  Since we have both men and women in harms way, cheerleaders of both sexes should be considered. It would be even better if the cheerleaders were Afghan women, because they deserve the right to be cheerleaders, if they choose, but many still do not have this right.

In the past, Bob Hope would annually entertain the troops along with gorgeous girls in his cast. This really was a form of cheerleading. Today the USO and certain entertainers continue to bring respite to war-weary troops. But, unfortunately, most troops don't ever get to see the shows.

If we were to bring this topic to the newscasters we would probably have Fox News as a great supporter of cheerleaders for troops.  MSNBC would probably find it a deplorable idea and in the end the entire idea would be politicized with both Republicans and Democrats in stalemate over what to do and how to do it. To get the real story we probably should be watching the BBC. Do they have cheerleaders for soccer games? You bet they do.

Hmmm.  Cheerleading is just like everything else.

 

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