Jean has worked in Orange County, California, as an award-winning freelance writer since 1988, covering a range of subjects from the environment, politics, and domestic violence to profiles of author Dean Koontz and the president of the University of California. Her work has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, and literary journals.
The subject of baseball, particularly the role that women have played in the game, continues to attract her. Her first book, Breaking into Baseball: Women and the National Pastime, was published in 2005, is in the collections of more than 600 libraries, and appeared on the Los Angeles Times best sellers list. It continues to be used as a text in sports history and gender studies courses around the country. Making My Pitch: A Woman’s Baseball Odyssey, co-authored with lefthander Ila Jane Borders, was published in April 2017 by the University of Nebraska Press and has been optioned for a film.
For the past twenty years, Jean has taught memoir-writing workshops, with several of her students publishing. She often speaks about both women and baseball and the art and craft of memoir writing to writers’ groups, book clubs, community groups, and college students. For ten years she co-chaired the NINE Baseball Conference, in Tempe, Arizona, and for several years served as the moderator of a women’s panel discussion at the Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Jean graduated with honors in English from the University of California at Irvine and holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California. She lives with her husband Dan Ardell, who played professional baseball, in Laguna Beach, California.
Women's Baseball History
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Breaking into Baseball:
Women and the National Pastime
While baseball is traditionally perceived as a game to be played, enjoyed, and reported from a masculine perspective, it has long been beloved among women— more so than any other spectator sport. Breaking into Baseball: Women and the National Pastime upends baseball’ s accepted history to at last reveal just how involved women are, and have always been, in the American game.
Making My Pitch:
A Woman's Baseball Odyssey
with Ila Jane Borders
Making My Pitch tells the story of Ila Jane Borders, who despite formidable obstacles became a Little League prodigy, MVP of her otherwise all-male middle school and high school teams, the first woman awarded a baseball scholarship, and the first to pitch and win a complete men’s collegiate game. After Mike Veeck signed Borders in May 1997 to pitch for his St. Paul Saints of the independent Northern League, she accomplished what no woman had done since the Negro Leagues era: play men’s professional baseball. Borders played four professional seasons and in 1998 became the first woman in the modern era to win a professional ball game.
Borders had to find ways to fit in with her teammates, reassure their wives and girlfriends, work with the media, and fend off groupies. But these weren’t the toughest challenges. She had a troubled family life, a difficult adolescence as she struggled with her sexual orientation, and an emotionally fraught college experience as a closeted gay athlete at a Christian university.
Making My Pitch shows what it’s like to be the only woman on the team bus, in the clubhouse, and on the field. Raw, open, and funny at times, her story encompasses the loneliness of a groundbreaking pioneer who experienced grave personal loss. Borders ultimately relates how she achieved self-acceptance and created a life as a firefighter and paramedic and as a coach and goodwill ambassador for the game of baseball.