November 29, 2020

Unique moments in Webster Athletics: Perabo was first NCAA female collegiate baseball player

By Scott Lunte, contributing writer

One year after the Webster University baseball program began, history was made.

Susan Perabo, now a creative writing teacher at Dickinson College (Penn.), became the first female collegiate baseball player in history in 1985.

“I didn’t go into it having any knowledge I was the first (female) to play college baseball,” Perabo said.

GRAPHIC BY VICTORIA COURTNEY

When an exhibit about women was featured in the baseball hall of fame, Perabo had her own plaque that stated she played second base for the Gorloks and was the first female collegiate baseball player.

“It’s not there anymore, but it’s on file back in the archives,” Perabo said.

Although Perabo made history at Webster, she wasn’t a fan of being “the girl” on the team. Former Webster athletic director, now sports information director, Niel DeVasto, believes she handled the publicity well.

“She was very withdrawn about that,” DeVasto said. “Some members (of the media) would send people out to the games and the photographer would complain that when she was in the dugout, (she) sat back and kept her hat down. She just wanted to be a member of the team and not a sideshow.”

Perabo wasn’t looking to rewrite history books; she wanted to play the game she grew up with.

“I wasn’t trying to make any kind of statement,” Perabo said. “I wasn’t trying to rock the boat or anything. I just wanted to play, and I think that once they (the team) realized that, then they stopped being skeptical.

“I think at some point, I stopped being a novelty and I was just being a member of the team, and that was really important to me.”

Perabo also played for the women’s basketball team. While athletics were starting up at Webster, Perabo was “drafted” by the team because they needed bodies. This was during a time when Webster basketball wasn’t winning games.

“During that time, it was a matter of finding five or six people to go play,” DeVasto said.

Perabo said that the hardest part of playing basketball was the continuous losing, but she had fun playing the game.

“I was always good on defense,” Perabo said.

Perabo received her master’s degree in creative writing, and enjoys working with her students at Dickinson. She wants to be remembered as the creative writing teacher and not the first female collegiate baseball player.

“I’d like to try and see the world through other people’s perspective, and I like to present those perspectives to readers,” Perabo said.

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