She is used to
the one-word question: Why? On Saturday it was asked by a woman sportswriter
who talked to Postema before most of the men arrived for the press conference.
"Sometimes I'd like to know that, too," said Postema. "What do you
It was her way of
acknowledging that the reporter also operates in a predominantly male preserve.
Postema downplays the feminism issue, saying, "I don't want to be a cause,
and I don't think I am one. I umpire because I love the game and because it's
such a challenge. Whatever I do, I like to be good at it. I like to be at the
top of the pile."
To get to the top
in a man's game, Postema has made some accommodations. She keeps her hair short
to fit under her umpire's cap. She cultivates a second voice: a low-pitched,
loud ballpark woof. Even her off-season job in Phoenix suggests an effort to be
one of the boys. She drives a United Parcel Service delivery truck—"one of
those brown things," she says.
But Postema knows
she's different. And right now she's the only umpire who is news. Last Thursday
she worked an exhibition game in West Palm Beach between the Atlanta Braves and
the University of Georgia. During the exchange of lineup cards, a gaggle of TV
cameramen and photographers bumped the other umpires aside to get shots of her.
A little flustered, Atlanta manager Chuck Tanner asked her, "Would you like
and declined. "He was just making a joke," she said later, refusing to
treat Tanner's question as a sexist remark.
codefendant in a sex discrimination lawsuit brought by former Braves publicist
Robin Monsky, praised Postema's work in a weekend series with the Montreal
Expos. "I thought she was very, very good," he said. "She called
third strikes without hesitation. She called a balk on my guy, and it was a
balk. You don't even notice her after an inning or two. She's an
Buck Rodgers said, "She missed a couple, nothing flagrant, but I haven't
seen anything so far that says she can't umpire in the majors. She knows the
pitchers praised Postema for having a consistent strike zone, while hitters
described her as quick and decisive. "I had her way back in the Florida
State League," said Braves shortstop Buddy Biancalana, "and she was
outstanding behind the plate."
There were no
rhubarbs in either of the weekend games she worked, but if there had been,
Postema wouldn't have backed down. In 1986 she ejected combative San Diego
Padres manager Larry Bowa from three games when he skippered the Las Vegas
Stars of the Pacific Coast League.
She's careful not
to appear thin-skinned. "They go for where you're vulnerable," she
says. "If I were big and fat, they'd say, 'Hey, you're fat.' If I were
short, they'd say, 'You're too short.' So once in a while someone brings up the
woman thing. It's all part of the game."