Bernice Gera

From BR Bullpen

Bernice M. Gera

Bernice Gera was the first female umpire in Organized Baseball. She signed a deal with the New York-Penn League after completing an umpire training school, only to have her contract voided with no reason six days later. On March 15, 1971, she filed a lawsuit against Organized Baseball, citing a civil rights violation. On January 13, 1972, she won her case.

On June 24, Gera got her first game, umpiring a contest between the Geneva Senators and Auburn Phillies. In the 4th inning, Auburn's Terry Ford was on second and broke for third. The batter lined to Geneva 2B Jim Pascarella, who fired back to SS Brian Doyle at second for a seeming double play. Gera ruled Ford safe, then reversed her call. Auburn manager Nolan Campbell disputed the decision and said that Gera's first mistake was blowing the call and that her second was putting on an umpire's uniform. The quote was altered over time, with a part about Gera belonging in the kitchen, peeling potatoes added on at an unknown time, although period accounts do not include it and Gera herself claimed that Campbell never said it. Campbell was thrown out of the game. Gera resigned after the game.

From 1974 to 1979, she worked for the New York Mets PR department.

She died of cancer in 1992. Her uniform, photograph and pink whiskbroom were displayed in the Hall of Fame.

Sources include Mendoza's Heroes by Al Pepper and Newspaperarchive.com.

Obituary from the New York Times