Belle of the Ballpark Competition Highlights Opening Week


Last updated 5/25/2023 at 3:26pm | View PDF

2023 Belle of the Ballpark contestants, including this year's winner, Geraldine Oliver (at center about to throw a baseball), pose with their Visalia Rawhide escorts and Tipper, the team mascot.

Visalia Rawhide celebrated Opening Week at Valley Strong Ballpark with fans enjoying baseball and senior ladies telling "Yo Mama" jokes.

April 12th was the second day of Opening Week as the Visalia Rawhide played against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (a Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate). Although it was an exciting game and the Rawhide's first win of the season, for many fans the highlight of the night was the Belle of the Ballpark competition.

The competition featured five contestants, one of whom was Bernie Watson, the reigning champ from 2019, the last time the competition was held.

Watson was back and ready to fight for her crown again.

The five beautiful contest-ants started the night off by being escorted onto the field by Visalia Rawhide players, followed by throwing the first pitches of the night. (All of the five Belle's pitches were called strikes.)

In the middle of the second inning, the Belles then strutted their stuff, showing off their best runway walks. After impressing the judges with their style and poise, they participated in a cheek-pinching competition.

Although some of the ladies apparently misunderstood which cheek they were supposed to pinch, they managed to keep everything PG.

The last competition the Belle's participated in was the "Yo Mama" joke contest. The ladies had not only the crowd but the players rolling with laughter.

After the fans' and the judges' votes were tallied, the winner was announced. The 2023 Belle of the Ballpark was Geraldine Oliver.

Geraldine moved to California in 1959 to work with 20th Century. She is still active in the community as a process server and notary public. She has five children and 12 grandchildren with whom she loves to spend her free time.

2019 Belle of the Ballpark Bernie Watson competed again.

Her favorite memory of baseball was when she was 10 years old and her father taught her how to pitch a softball. She fell in love with pitching after that and played for the family softball team at Plaza Park.

Geraldine is 84 years old and her life has revolved around baseball. Her grandfather built a "Field of Dreams" on his Quincy Farm, and whenever Geraldine drives by the Valley Strong Ballpark, home of the Visalia Rawhide, she fills with love and memory for not just her grandfather and his field, but also with the fond memories she has had working with the Rawhide in the past.

Based on the positive response from those in attendance, the Rawhide org-anization expects to continue the Belle of the Ballpark as an annual tradition. They are already starting to make plans for next year's event.


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