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Female Ump Calls the Shots at Cubs Game

By Shannon in News on Mar 31, 2007 8:23PM

ria cortesioThere's a misconception as old as time that says women aren't as interested in sports as men. While we of the fairer species of Chicagoist may not get into the heated discussions that the brawnier side does - nor can we rely on it as a conversation tactic when meeting a new fellow female - we do have room in our vast, vast brains (and hearts) for sports. Our personal favorite is America's pastime, baseball. That's what makes so proud that one of our own called a Cubs spring training game on Thursday in Mesa, AZ.

Ria Cortesio brought out the crowd at HoHoKam Park, who were poised to see how she would do judging first and third bases for the Cubs vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks. As it turns out, she did pretty darn good. Any performance that doesn't end in Lou Piniella kicking dirt in your face has to be regarded as a highlight. Her closest call came when Ryan Theriot stole second, barely beating out a missed tag. Cortesio received Theriot's endorsement as a result: "She's good. She’s breaking down barriers and she’s persistent and she makes all the right calls and that’s what they are supposed to do." Oh, what we wouldn't do for a pat on the butt from Ryan Theriot ... ahem.

It's not like Cortesio, 30, was pulled out of the audience to ump for a publicity stunt, either. Raised in Rock Island, IL on the Iowa border, she grew up loving the sport. The fifth woman ever to call games in professional baseball, she's the only one currently doing it today. She's been an umpire for nine years, the last five in Double-A. Her ultimate goal is to reach the majors and call regular-season games, a feat never accomplished by a woman. It may take a while for that to happen; a spot would have to open up in Triple-A, then she'd be evaluated by major league supervisors instead of ones in the minor leagues. Only then would she have the opportunity to make the big time. We wish her the best, even though her baseball allegiance could stand to be revised: "Where I grew up, half the people are Cubs fans and half are Cardinals fans. I'm one of the smart ones." Yeah, yeah, we've heard it all before.

Image via Baseball Diva's Dugout Diary.