The Preps : ‘ONE OF THE PLAYERS’ : Drummond Marches to a Different Beat
Heather Drummond is a left fielder on Katella High School’s freshman baseball team.
And she’d like it to be as simple as that. No fanfare. Just another one of the players, hoping to do her best, improve and make the varsity some day.
She’d like to play more. She has played only two innings and has one at-bat, a groundout to third base, in eight games, but other than that, things are going as well as can be expected.
Drummond isn’t trying to make a point or a stand of any kind. She just wants a fair shake and a chance to play.
She wants to be accepted as just another freshman, albeit a little smaller at 5-feet-2 and 105 pounds. Her black hair is a little longer, reaching far down her back, and her voice is a little higher, but not by much, than her teammates’.
But try as she might, Drummond can’t avoid the unavoidable. She’s a girl playing on a boys’ team in what has been long regarded as a boys’ sport.
And for that reason, she’s got a diamond’s worth of stories in the eight years she has been playing baseball with the boys.
Most aren’t as serious as the time when she was playing in Little League and a baserunner intentionally slugged her in the ribs trying to break up a double play. He got kicked out of the game but Drummond wanted to do some kicking herself.
“I wanted to hit him so bad,” she said.
Mostly, it’s the comments by other players, and sometimes that includes her own teammates.
“Hey, number 2 is a girl!”
“Why aren’t you playing softball?”
“Hey, do you change in the same locker room?”
She’s grown accustomed to the taunts, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. She tries as best she can to ignore it all, but it’s often endless and tiring.
So why does she do it?
Certainly not to be different. She wants to make that clear right off. She’s not a pioneer, anyway.
Last month, Julie Croteau of St. Mary’s College of Maryland became the first woman to play in a National Collegiate Athletic Assn. baseball game. Another woman, Pam Postema, has umpired major league games during spring training.
Drummond has played with a number of girls since she began playing T-ball when she was 6. But none in high school, however.
“If I wanted to make a point, I’d play football,” Drummond said. “I just want to play baseball.”
She has baseball in her blood. After all, she’s been playing more than half her life. Her older brother, Chris, plays on the Katella varsity and was a bat boy for the Angels last season.
Next season, she hopes to make the junior varsity. If not, she’ll play on the Knights’ frosh-soph team with the others on the freshman team who don’t make the junior varsity.
“I’m going to stick with it,” Drummond said. “But I’m not going to get there by wishing. I’ve got to work at it.”
She wants to work with weights and on improving her throwing. It was her dedication that helped her land a spot on the freshman team in the first place. She attended all but one of the preseason weightlifting sessions.
And that showed Tim McMenamin, Katella varsity coach, that she was indeed serious about playing.
When Drummond first asked about playing, McMenamin told her that he’d give her a fair shot at making the team.
She did, edging out a few boys who tried out.
And since then, she’s become one of the guys. “Of the guys?” teammate Anthony Flores asks. “One of the players.”
Flores, a second baseman, and Drummond played on the same T-ball team when they were 6. It might have surprised some of the other players to see her on the field, but not Flores.
“I always knew she could play pretty good,” he said.
His is a typical response by her teammates.
“I thought she was better than some of the guys who tried out,” said Steve Gregg, a pitcher and third baseman.
“She’s got guts,” pitcher Jeff Clouse said. “She deserved to make the team.”
They are also honest.
“I thought she should be in softball at first, because I didn’t think girls could play baseball,” Clouse said.
“She puts up with a lot of stuff we give her,” first baseman Mark Hirsch said. “She has to stand up for herself.”
Her teammates have backed her when they could.
After grounding to third in her only at-bat, her teammates gave her a standing ovation and high fives.
It was nice, but small consolation. She wanted a hit.
Still, this season has been better than most. She and her teammates have grown close in the last few weeks.
“I was tested a lot to see if I could handle it,” Drummond said. “Now, they treat me like everybody else.”
And that, along with some playing time, is all Drummond has ever wanted from her baseball career.