soft hands.

Ria Cortesio is eager to get her first look at PNC Park -- the double-decked stands, the Roberto Clemente bridge in left field, the Allegheny River beyond the wall in right.

The fans packing the seats for the All-Star festivities will see something new, too: a woman umpire working on a major league field.

''I don't do this job to get on TV,'' she said this week. ''But I hope it will raise the awareness a little.''

In her fourth year at Double-A, Cortesio is the lone woman umpire in professional ball. Picked from the Southern League, she will be at third base Sunday when top minor league prospects play in the Futures Game.

On Monday night, she'll work one of the foul lines when David Ortiz, Ryan Howard and other sluggers compete in the Home Run Derby.

...At 29 and in her eighth year overall, Cortesio represents the majors' best -- and only, for now -- chance at its first woman umpire. There have been five other woman umps in pro ball, and Pam Postema got the closest to making it when she did spring training games in the late 1980s.


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