For three years Coach Jake Abbott, a former pitcher for Santa Barbara in the California League, had a championship team at Roosevelt High in Fresno. The only trouble was no one came to see it play. "I guess we didn't average 50 people a game," says Abbott. So to beef up attendance Abbott tried an old device. If Roosevelt's prettiest girls came to the games, he reasoned, so would everyone else. To get things started he formed a baseball club and began holding classes for the girls during school lunch hour to teach them the game.
"At first," he recalls, "most of those who attended had boy friends on the team, but things changed almost overnight. The girls became interested in baseball, particularly in learning how to keep score." Before he knew it, Abbott had 100 students. The girls purchased special jerseys to wear at the games, raised money for trips with the team, took over running the concessions, taking tickets and operating the scoreboard. Attendance rose to more than 3,000.
All of which made everyone happy—everyone, that is, except Abbott's team. Apparently, having so many attentive girls around just makes them nervous. "They keep telling us," says Club President Pat Talbert, "not to cheer so loud."