'Hey, there's always softball': Girl gets arcade game's taunt removed
When 9-year-old Marie Marcum was playing an MLB-licensed throwing game last month at a Chuck E. Cheese in Naperville, she was shocked by what happened when she missed a target.
"Hey, there's always softball," a voice from the game told her.
Well, the fourth-grader from Bolingbrook happens to be a softball player and was not amused by the taunt.
"She got really mad," said Lisa Marcum, Marie's mother. "She said the game made fun of softball."
After considering her options, Marie wrote a letter, dated Feb. 18, to Major League Baseball explaining why the arcade game made her angry.
"It made it seem like baseball was better. (It's not)," Marie wrote. "It was trying to say that if you missed, you should just go play softball.
"It made me feel that I wasn't good enough," she said, adding she hoped the game could be changed.
Marie got her wish last week when the game's manufacturer gave Chuck E. Cheese new recordings for the machine.
"We're thankful to Marie for bringing this to our attention and agree -- play and sports are for everyone," the company said in a statement. It says the sound has been updated at Chuck E. Cheese locations nationwide.
This week, professional softball player Jennie Finch called Marie "a game changer."
Marie's letter gained media attention after her mother posted a picture of the handwritten note on Facebook.
She got a call from ESPN the next day.
Chuck E. Cheese responded to Marie's story by muting the game across the country on Feb. 21. The taunt was removed less than a week later.
Lisa Marcum says her daughter is "very pleased" with the outcome.
"She's young, so I don't think she fully understands," Lisa Marcum said. "In her mind she's like, 'Wow, that's cool.'"
Lisa Marcum says she's proud of her daughter for speaking up and writing a letter that sparked a change.
On Sunday, Marie returned to the Chuck E. Cheese along Route 59 in Naperville for a party the company hosted for her and her softball team.
Marie was one of the first to try the updated game.
"She got to try the game again without the comment and had a really good time," Lisa Marcum said.
During the party, Marie received a surprise video message from Finch. The U.S. Olympic team hero thanked Marie for "sticking up for what is right and taking a stand" by writing her letter.
"You are brave," Finch said. "You are courageous. You are a game-changer."
Chuck E. Cheese says it's going to send Marie and one of her friends to a softball camp this summer to meet Finch in person.
Marie was very excited to hear the message because Finch is one of her heroes.
"She was blown away that Jennie Finch knew her name," Lisa Marcum said.