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Encore Players to showcase history of diversity in baseball for library program

Readers theater event to highlight women, Negro leagues and more
Baseball
A young man reaching base during a baseball match. (Stock photo)

The Encore Players are bringing a new show, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame: Baseball Over the Years" to the Livermore Library Civic Center branch on Monday (July 25).

The in-person, readers theater event will take a journey through the history of the sport, specifically highlighting the progression of diversity over time from the Japanese American and Negro Leagues of the 1920s to women in baseball and more, according a statement from the library.

The free program will also highlight legendary ballplayers such as Hank "The Hebrew Hammer" Greenberg, Yogi Berra, Jackie Robinson and others.

Organizers said that the "Baseball Over the Years" show marks the first indoor, in-person presentation by the Encore Players at the library since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Director Donna Blevins said that the approximately hour-long program intends to educate people about baseball's history in an engaging way.

"We want to make it interesting and even educational but we also want it to be fun," she said.

She added, "Our intention is for people to have a good experience together. We're just starting to get back together -- everything's been on Zoom. It's a chance to meet some people in the community, have fun and maybe learn something new."

Blevins said that the audience can expect to see a compilation of skits, readings, poetry and even reenactments of scenes from popular baseball movies, including the 1992 dramedy "A League of Their Own" which tells a fictional story about women in baseball during the World War II era. They will even have their own rendition of a seventh-inning stretch during the show.

Why baseball? Blevins said the theme was initially chosen simply for fun. "It's a national pastime, it's summer but we also wanted to incorporate diversity," she said, adding that they decided underscoring the evolution of the sport would be a good way to bring in those elements.

In addition to members of the Encore Players, readers and performers for the show include volunteers from Sandia and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories.

The community theater group teamed up with lab employees earlier this year to present a virtual performance of a series of monologues inspired by past and present abolitionists called "Abolitionist Monologues: When Freedom Speaks" for Black History Month.

Blevins said that the collaboration between the lab and the Encore Players stems from connections formed from her own previous employment at Sandia and help from Tony Baylis, LLNL's director for the Office of Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Programs who is also a board member for Shakespeare & Performing Arts Regional Company (SPARC).

"Baseball Over the Years" is part of the library’s Adult Summer Reading Program, sponsored by the Friends of the Livermore Public Library. Adults aged 18 and older are encouraged to participate in the summer reading program. Participants who earn eight or more badges will be placed into a drawing for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate for local restaurants and businesses, according to the library's statement.

The event is set for 7 p.m. on Monday in the library's storytime room. For more information, visit library.livermoreca.gov or the Library’s Facebook page.