ORLEANS, Mass. (AP) — Judy Walden Scarafile got her start as a scorekeeper and baseball writer for her high school newspaper. When she got to college at the University of Connecticut, she brought her portfolio — "a glorified scrapbook in those days," she says — to the sports editor and asked to cover the baseball team.
We already have someone, he told her. But she could cover women's track instead.
"No thanks," she said, and walked out.
The sports editor came running after her. "Come back," he said. "We'll figure something out."
If you look around most corners of baseball, you'll find almost entirely men. But in the Cape Cod Baseball League, the makeup is a little different.
Scarafile's role evolved from that first meeting with the university sports editor. Soon, she was traveling with the school team and writing stories every September about the UConn players who had played on the Cape. During her junior year in 1970, she got a call from Dick Bresciani, then the public relations director for the Cape League. With that call came the opportunity to be an official scorekeeper for the league.
She said yes before she even asked her mother — who said no. Somehow, though, she still ended up on the Cape.
In 1972, Bresciani took a job with the Boston Red Sox, leaving a vacancy behind. Scarafile said she doesn't remember who asked her to fill the position, she just remembers she jumped at the chance.
Soon, one thing led to another, and Scarafile climbed to league vice president, then deputy commissioner, then president from 1991 until 2015. She didn't learn until later that the opportunities she'd had were unusual for a woman, particularly in the days before Title IX.
"It really had to be hammered into me that women don't do this and it was unusual, so I said, 'OK, big deal, but it shouldn't affect anything," she said.
Sue Horton's case is similar. She'd always been a girl who loved baseball, but with her self-described lack of athleticism she had to find another path. She got involved with the league, first as a general volunteer, then as the editor of the team's yearbook. In the off-season, she worked for a radio station in Chatham.
Being the general manager of the Orleans Firebirds wasn't in her plans — until it was.
In her early days, Horton looked up to Barbara Ellsworth, the former general manager of the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox and the only other female general manager in the league's history.
"I just watched the way she did things and the relationships she had with the players who stayed with her and the other people and we just talked a lot," Horton said. "After meetings all winter, after every meeting, we'd go out and have something to eat, Mary (Henderson) and her and I and another lady, and we'd just talk about what had happened at the meeting and what we thought were good plans, not-so-good plans, good suggestions, other alternatives. She had just been around so long and seen so much."
For Elizabeth Layton, public address person for the Harwich Mariners, baseball has been a family game — not of fathers and sons, but of a mother and her daughter, for as long as she can remember. When Layton was 5, her mother, Mary Henderson, started working for the Harwich Mariners as a host mom, then on the organizational side, and now as team president.
Layton, known as "Biz," worked as an official scorekeeper and announcer as early as high school. A communications major in college, Layton left the Cape for North Carolina and worked in sales for the AA minor-league Carolina Mudcats and the NHL Carolina Hurricanes. She moved back to the Cape in 2006 and got back into it with the Mariners. When Layton first started announcing, it was around the time the announcers began reading advertisements between innings, and when she returned she had intimate knowledge of what would appeal to customers.
Public address announcing might have been an almost exclusively male field, but sales wasn't. Layton said she was able to blend the two and create a niche of her own.
"I've never seen it as a challenge or never seen it as something that I've had some sort of disadvantage in because I'm a woman or anything like that," Layton said.
Today, as the Cape League's only female announcer, Layton's husband, Ben, is the general manager, and they have two children who are just as much a part of the game as little Biz was. Nine-year-old Tyler is a participant in the Mariners clinic and 12-year-old Emily is a junior intern.
Orleans Firebirds trainer Michele Pavlu was in school at a time when the athletic training profession was shifting from being male- to female-dominated. Her graduating class had 11 women and three men. As she began working in the Cape League, Pavlu said she saw more and more women come on board. Now, the league's trainers are almost exclusively female.
The Cape League's schedule basically prevents anyone working in college athletics from getting the position, so recent graduates and local high school trainers — more female-dominated arenas — tend to apply, Pavlu said. The opportunity to work in a well-regarded summer league has provided a vital jumping-off point for many aspiring trainers, and Pavlu has seen the volume of female trainers in the minor leagues increase.
"If they work baseball at the college level, they're working through Memorial Day and into June and they have to report back at the end of July," she said.
Like many women in sports, Pavlu sometimes spends her nights questioning what she does and needs a friend to talk things through with. In the Cape League, with so many female trainers and even a female general manager, Pavlu said she gets that.
Scarafile, too, knows the importance of having female role models and support.
She used to have interns and every single time, they were female. That wasn't on purpose, she says, but it was mutually beneficial. She didn't realize at the time that she was serving as a mentor, but as the years went by and she stayed in touch, she realized the impact she'd likely had.
Scarafile was inducted into the Cape League Hall of Fame in 2003, had the field at McKeon Park in Hyannis named for her in 2016 and was recently added to an exhibit on female pioneers at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
"Even now, I've had some friends stop at the field (at McKeon Park) who I haven't seen in a while," Scarafile said. "We'll stand there and we'll watch the game and they'll look out at the scoreboard and they'll say to me, 'So, how does it feel to look out there and see your name?' And this is where I really am short on words because you can't come up with the right words. It's as humbling as anything I've ever experienced."
Information from: Cape Cod (Mass.) Times, http://www.capecodtimes.com