Rachelle “Rocky” McCann just wanted to play baseball.
This was back in the 1970s, years before Colorado Silver Bullets coach Joe Pignatano nicknamed her Rocky and, of course, long before she married Robert Henley.
After school, 7-year-old Rachelle was in the habit of stopping at South San Francisco’s Buri Buri Park before heading home. A shy kid, she would stand at the fence of the baseball field, glove in hand.
“There would always be a coach hitting fly balls for the boys,” Henley recalled. “I was waiting for a coach to call me over.”
She got the call and was elated with her first assignment, as the catcher retrieving the balls from the boys after they would shag the flies.
“I just wanted to help,” Henley said. “I got to play and it was fun.”
Within two years she was one of two girls playing for the Customer Service General Contractors of the local boys’ little league. Her dad, David McCann, who had been a cannon-armed quarterback at The City’s Sacred Heart Cathedral, prepared his daughter for the diamond.
“My father taught me all of the positions,” Henley said who would eventually find a home at third base, having inherited the strong-arm gene.
At age 10, with limited baseball opportunities available for girls, Henley switched to softball.
The line drive hitter with speed on the base paths started all four years for the El Camino High and San Francisco State University softball teams. She holds the Gator season record with 44 RBIs in 1991.
In 1994, Henley returned to her first love, baseball, by capturing one of 24 spots from 2,000 hopefuls with the Silver Bullets in its inaugural season as a professional women’s traveling team.
For the past 10 years, Henley has played for the San Francisco Fillies of the California Women’s Baseball League. At 42, she has shifted her focus from playing to teaching.
“I’m more of a coach, manager, team rep,” said the San Francisco Recreation & Park Department early childhood coordinator. “I don’t want to take a 22-year old’s spot on the field. I want that person to have the opportunity.”
This summer, Henley’s Sundays are filled with baseball as she jumps from Fillies to Red Sox games. That would be the the Sox of the San Bruno Pee Wee League where she coaches her son’s team.
Nine-year-old Jackson Henley was named after San Francisco’s Jackson Playground, where his parents met in 1993 while playing ball.
Ages 15 & Up: Although Henley indicated that one of the players is only 13 years old.
-- 5th in career RBI (97 from ’88-’91)
-- 10th in career runs scored (82)
-- 3rd in career triples (14)
-- 8th in career batting avg. (.301)
-- 5th in season batting avg. (.376 in ’91)
-- 8th in career assists (360)