Chicks with Sticks 

Baseball 101 will teach women about our national pastime.

Quick, somebody call Senator Rick Santorum, the righteous guardian of traditional American values and get him to comment on this one: Thanks to Memphis marketing consultant LaShawn Parks of the sports marketing firm the Parks Group, women, that's right, WOMEN are about to be educated in the fine and manly art of baseball. Next thing you know they are going to want equality in the workplace and the right to vote! Harumph! It's an absolute outrage to misogynists everywhere. Besides, if women actually learn about baseball, they might learn to enjoy baseball and then who's going to bring us men our beer while we are ensconced in front of the television set on a Saturday afternoon?

It's all terribly, terribly upsetting. Furthermore, Parks is not the least bit apologetic about her class, Baseball 101, even though it threatens to upset the natural order of the universe in a way that may be irreversible. Here's what she had to say for herself.

Flyer: Teaching baseball to women, huh? It all seems pretty radical. Where in the world did you get such a crazy idea?

LaShawn Parks: Well, I've been a huge sports fan all my life. I grew up in a family of sports fans. My mother was a big fan, especially of University of Memphis basketball and football. My father was a St. Louis Cardinals fan, so I grew up watching the Cardinals play all of the time. Anyway, I got my MBA, and [wanted to do something sports-related]. So I was surfing the Web, doing some research on the Atlanta Braves, when I saw that they offered a Baseball 101 class for women.

And that seemed like a good idea?

I thought it sounded like a great idea. I have women friends call me all the time, because they don't understand the game and they want me to explain it to them. They want me to explain the rules and who the players are. And not just baseball. They want to know about football and basketball also, so we're thinking about doing some more classes. Football 101 and Basketball 101 for women.

Now you say that this is just for women. That doesn't seem fair. What about guys who are big sissies? Would it be good for them too?

You know, we have actually had three or four men call and ask, "Is the class really just for women?" I tell them, "Hey, if you don't know anything about baseball, come on." Of course, I haven't gotten any registration forms in from any men yet.

So what are some of the things you are going to be teaching these women?

We're going to learn how to sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." We're going to try to learn it. It's an easy song.

Really? Are you going to get the Redbirds' organ player to come and play it?

No, unfortunately, I'm going to have to play a tape. Since there is a Redbirds game [at AutoZone Park] we're not going to actually have access to the field or the dugout.

But it will be a tape of an organ? If you're singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," you have to be accompanied by an organ. I think it's a law or something.

Yes, if I can find a tape of an organ.

But let's say I was one of your female friends, and I was calling you in a panic because my husband and his friends were watching the game and I didn't understand it. What would you tell me?

Well, I would start by explaining the players and their positions. Who they are and what they do. And I would explain the stats. Like batting averages, RBIs, etc. That's what scares women. All the stats.

All those numbers can be pretty scary. Are these the kinds of things you'll be teaching in the class?

We're going to have two women speak. The plan is not to parade a bunch of men in front [of the students]. We've got Kim Jackson from the Memphis Redbirds and Margaret Carol, a softball coach in the Memphis City Schools. I think it's important to teach women not just the basics but also a little bit about the history of baseball.

Baseball 101 for women will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 3rd, at the Plaza Club next to AutoZone Park. The price of the class includes lunch and tickets to see the Redbirds game, which starts at 2 p.m. For more information, contact the Parks Group at 240-9773.



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