Last year, 9-year-old softball player Marie Marcum was minding her own business at a Chuck E. Cheese in Naperville, Illinois, when an MLB licensed throwing game insulted her from out of nowhere. When she failed at the game, it told her “there’s always softball.” The game using softball as an insult made her so angry that her mom, Lisa, encouraged her to write a letter to Major League Baseball, which went viral when Lisa posted it on social media. That led to the taunt being removed from the games at Chuck. E Cheese’s all over the country.
On Tuesday, less than six months later, Marie and her parents were MLB’s invited guests to the All-Star festivities. That includes the Jennie Finch Classic softball game, which Marie got to attend, and the enormous, fun-filled Play Ball Park, where Yahoo Sports caught up with Marie.
She hasn’t encountered any other insulting video games since her encounter earlier in 2019, but she’s always on alert. Since her letter silenced the game’s audio, Marie’s been focused on school and softball (of course). She’s been playing since she was 4 or 5, and it’s the only game she’s ever wanted to play. She plays shortstop, catcher and second base, but unfortunately her coach doesn’t allow bat flips. She’s thinking trying one out, though. Just a twirl — not enough to get her into trouble.
Marie intends to keep playing and talking about softball, not just because she loves it, but because she wants it to be as popular as the four major U.S. sports. That’s what her letter was all about — softball isn’t bad or lesser than any other sport just because it’s primarily played by girls and women. She wishes she could watch her beloved Chicago Bandits on TV, or any softball at all. Marie also wants more people to play softball so one day there can be a major national softball league on the same level as MLB.
Marie loves playing softball, but she loves watching baseball. Her mom is a Chicago White Sox fan, and her dad is a Chicago Cubs fan. Marie has come down on the Cubs side, but as her mom said, “We’re Chicago fans.” Marie loves Kris Bryant, who invited her to Wrigley Field after he heard about the video game incident. She loves him because he showed her the clubhouse, but Lisa made sure to point out that Marie also loves how Bryant plays. Marie also loves Willson Contreras because he’s a catcher like she is, and Anthony Rizzo because he spends time visiting sick kids.
She may like watching baseball, but Marie is a softball player through and through. When asked if there’s anything baseball could change to make it baseball friendlier toward her, she wasted no time before answering, “Really nothing.” But she wasn’t done.
“I just want a girl to play in the major leagues,” Marie said.
Does she want to be that girl someday?
“I wanna play softball... but maybe,” she replied with a smile.
Marie and her parents were wowed by the Jennie Finch Classic on Monday, which featured two teams of 14- to 18-year-old softball players. She saw a triple play and got to meet Finch herself, as well as fellow softball legend Natasha Watley. The advice Marie got from Finch and Watley was simple but effective: keep doing what you’re doing, and keep using your voice.
Marie didn’t need help using her voice when she wrote that letter to Major League Baseball, but she’s still learning how to use it in other situations. There’s a bully at her school who’s been “rude” to some of her friends, and she wants to stand up to him. But she wasn’t shy about saying “I don’t know” when she was asked how she’s going to do that. At just nine years old, sometimes “I don’t know” is the best answer you can give.
She does have advice for any other girl who encounters something unfair or insulting like she did, advice she’s passing on from the softball legends she met on Monday: “Use your voice.”
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