October 18th, 2010
Book Review: Strike IX: The Story of a Big East
College Forced to Eliminate its Baseball Program and the Team that Refused to Lose
By Paul Lonardo
On June 23, 1972, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 was passed into law; in 2002, it was renamed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, in honor of its principal author.
Widely known as Title IX, the law states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…” In addition to the national statute, many states, including Alaska, California, Florida, Georgia, and Hawaii to name a few, also have laws that prohibit discrimination based on sex, even if the institution in question does not received federal funding.
Ironically, Title IX makes no specific distinction to sports, but this is where its impact has been most strongly felt. As a result of the different interpretations of this law, as well as fear of reprisals and lawsuits, many schools have changed or dropped portions of their sports programs.
Strike IX is the story of one of those casualties. In 1999, the Providence College Baseball team, the oldest sport at the institution, ceased to be. This team, which produced the Boston Red Sox’s very own Lou Merloni, would play their last game in the spring of that year.
Amid the disappointment, it would have been easy to give up, accept defeat and just play out the string. But this team did nothing of the sort. Adopting the motto “There’s Only One Thing Left to do…Win the whole %@!()& Thing.”, (Literally, it’s a catholic school after all…)this group of young men played their hearts out, culminating in a record breaking season, winning the 1999 Big East Conference Championship, and advancing to the NCAA Regional Finals before being eliminated in the final game. During the season, the Friars also broke Providence college records in wins (47) Big East wins (18) and longest winning streak (15 games)…
Meticulously researched, and written as though the author actually lived through the experience, Strike IX is a great book for not only fans of the game of baseball, but for anyone who wishes to be inspired by these young men who overcame adversity, and never gave up…
Strike IX can be purchased here…Check it out!