In baseball, there is a term describing someone as a “five-tool player.” It refers to a multi-talented team member who excels in the following five areas of the game: throwing, hitting (average), speed, power and fielding. This term is reserved for a NON-pitching position, but Little League baseball player Mo’ne Davis is making a case for being the exception, if not in baseball, then in life.
Speaking as a girl from Brooklyn who grew up with aspirations of being the first female catcher for the New York Mets, I have been following Mo’ne Davis with great interest and admiration, and no small amount of retroactive envy. As it would happen, my gender and complete lack of athleticism would get in the way of my dreams, but it has been thrilling to watch this girl live hers. The first girl to pitch a shut-out in the Little League World Series? Phenomenal.
Her class and brains and skills as a human being come through on and off the field, most recently in a controversy surrounding a tweet from a college baseball player. Joey Casselberry, a junior at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, and a star player on their baseball team, referred to the 13-year-old Davis as a “slut” when he heard Disney would be making a movie about her.
The BU Huskies took swift action and dismissed him from the team:
Bloomsburg Univ is deeply saddened by what was written about #MoneDavis by one of our student-athletes. His words do not represent us.
— BU Huskies (@GoBUHuskies) March 21, 2015
We take matter very seriously; addressed the issue with the student-athlete (who has been dismissed from team), coach, and the team.
— BU Huskies (@GoBUHuskies) March 21, 2015
It’s remarkable enough that the Bloomsburg University powers-that-be took such decisive and strong action against their player for using a pejorative term to describe a 13-year-old girl. It’s even more remarkable that Ms. Davis sent an email to B.U. asking he be forgiven and reinstated:
“Everyone makes mistakes…Everyone deserves a second chance. I know he didn’t mean it in that type of way.” – Mo’ne Davis
What incredible poise and class for a 13-year-old girl. What kindness and conviction.
While BU was moved by her email, praising her generosity and maturity, they are standing behind their decision to dismiss Casselberry:
“Right now we’re standing firm.” – Bloomsburg University
At the same time, I believe that the administrators and coaches at Bloomsburg University were completely correct to have taken such swift action and stand by it – even in light of Mo’Ne’s request that a fellow baseball standout be re-instated. She may have been moved by his apology and his plight, but despite what he said in his apology, his life is NOT ruined. He has talent, a university education, and the ability to turn this experience into something life-changing and wonderful, should he so choose and let’s hope he does. He still has many remaining options available to him now and in the future especially if he turns this into knowledge, action or progress about anything from sexism to cyber-bullying to being an upstanding member of a team. Even if all he does is sit quietly with this for a while, remember the lesson and think twice before tweeting something else like that again, he will have benefited from this chapter in his life.
He may be sincerely contrite, and I have no reason to believe he isn’t. But most assuredly, his life is not ruined. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same thing of victims of vicious bullying (cyber or otherwise), racial discrimination, sexism.
Ms. Davis cannot possibly be expected to have the perspective of an adult, and no one in their right mind would be critical of her gracious behavior. But we live in a time period in which women are still crying out to be taken seriously when they are abused or violated. Too often, rape culture on college campuses runs unchecked, and under-reported as a result. So many women are shamed and ignored for speaking up about their experiences, that they’re left with little or no support, and even sometimes forced to continue having contact with their abusers – often as a result of campus officials turning a blind eye to behavior that often begins like the tweet Joey Casselberry thoughtlessly sent out.
BU’s decision is drawing praise for a reason. It represents progress. It is the kind of action that should be taken by schools when faced with abusive behavior of its students. I imagine people breathing a sigh of relief, and saying, “Finally!” It represents adults rallying around a young girl who shows immeasurable fortitude and kindness, who has been called an unspeakable name by an adult man on Twitter. It is a model for how we hope other officials will behave when a person who has been abused in a much less public sphere dares to speak up. It is a sign that even the powers that be regard this kind of behavior as intolerable, and recognize the damage it can do to people with much less inner strength than Mo’ne possesses.
Ms. Davis’ generosity of spirit, maturity, strength, compassion and talent are all incredible. I wish everyone in her sphere of influence would learn from her and these “five tools” she possesses that make her an absolutely outstanding human being. I am also, though, on Team BU Huskies. In holding fast to their punishment of Casselberry, the administrators and coaches of Bloomsburg University are sending a message that too many vulnerable people are literally dying to hear.
Aliza Worthington grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and now lives in Baltimore. She began writing in 2009 at the age of 40. Sometimes her writing follows The Seinfeld Model of “no learning, no hugging.” Other times it involves lots of both. She blogs about Life, Liberty and Happiness at “The Worthington Post.” Her work also appears in Purple Clover, and before that, in Catonsville Patch and Kveller. She has been featured in the Community Spotlight section of Daily Kos under the username “Horque.” Her piece for The Broad Side, Leaving Gender at the Door, was chosen as a BlogHer Voice of the Year in 2013. Follow her on Twitter at @AlizaWrites.