Women and Girls Play Baseball Today

Women and Girls Play Baseball Today

By Rebecca Herman
August 2, 2019

In Part I of this series, I reflected on the most recent Women in Baseball Week and shared how I became passionate about this topic. In this article, I will highlight a few of the many activities and events that provide opportunities for women and girls to play baseball.

High School Players

Here is a video story about Maddie – who plays on her high school varsity baseball team and is the co-captain.


Baseball For All

For anyone thinking that young girls play Little League but then they all transition to softball, that’s not truly the case. More and more would prefer staying with baseball but find there is a limited opportunity. Grassroots efforts have started to change this. The map below (and accessible here for more exploration) shows the five age divisions and locations of 46 teams in North America.

In July, Baseball For All was notified that they had been awarded a grant to give more girls access to baseball.

Right now (July 31-August 4, 2019), there are over 350 girls attending the Baseball for All Nationals in Rockford, IL.

Baseball For All has already held clinics in Pittsburgh, PA, Reno, NV, and Chicago, IL, as well as series in Milton, NY, Hoboken, NJ, and Albany, CA with another planned for later this month in Cooperstown, NY.


American Girls Baseball (AGB)

This is a new subsidiary of the All-America Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) and Sue Zipay, who played for the AAGPBL, is the president. The Atlanta Braves Florida baseball operations team worked with Sue and the AGB association to bring girls ages 8-17 to their new CoolToday Park training facility in North Port, FL last month. The inaugural camp was limited to 60 participants and boasted a strong coaching staff.

The camp was deemed a huge success! Here are some more fantastic photos from the event.


MLB Youth Player Development

MLB Youth Player Development Series Logos

A department of Major League Baseball (MLB), the Youth Player Development programs seeks to “fulfill the needs and desires of young people who want to play our game.” Both the Trailblazer Series and the Breakthrough Series offer events for female baseball players. The Trailblazer series was officially introduced in 2017 and focuses on offering coaching and competitive play for girls under the age of 13.

This is an amazing start but an all-girls Little League seems to be what is truly needed to grow the sport. If MLB would then partner with these other organizations and their tournaments, perhaps more girls would get involved and awareness would increase exponentially.


USA Women’s Baseball Team

The women’s national team began competing in 2004 and won the Women’s Baseball World Cup that same year. There are only 20 spots on the women’s national team. In addition to competing in the WBWC, there are sometimes team development programs as well. This year, August 7-10, 2019, a 34-player roster will participate in the Women’s National Team Development Program (NTDP) in Carrollton, TX. The 2019 Women’s National Team Manager is Veronica Alvarez, five-time on Team USA alumna.

A dozen of the players participated in the Girls Baseball Breakthrough Series, seven played in the MLB GRIT Invitational and three in the Trailblazer Series. Ten of the women are returning Team USA alumnae. Check this page regularly for updates on the team.


World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC)

The WBSC is the organizing body for the Women’s World Cup.  Yes – there is a Women’s World Cup. How did I not know about this? Last Fall while doing research for “Take Me Out to the Ballgame: 150 Years” I discovered that the event had occurred in August in Viera, FL – the first time the tournament was ever held in the US. Honestly, had I known this, I would have found a way to be there. I have to think that there simply isn’t enough media coverage and based on attendance, that seems to be the case. The total official attendance for all 50 games was 17,969. That puts the average attendance for each game at 359 people.

The US was one of twelve countries that competed. Although baseball may be America’s Game, for the women, Team USA hasn’t won the World Cup since 2006 and that is largely due to the focus and professional status of many other countries for their women’s teams. Team USA members get acquainted at tryouts and then train together for five days before the series. In any situation, building team chemistry and team skills require more than a few days, regardless of the individual talent level.

Japan has dominated and won the gold six consecutive times from 2008-2018. In 2018, Chinese Taipei came in second place after being fourth in 2016. Canada defeated the US to take bronze. Overall, the US won in 2004 and 2006, took third in 2008 and 2010, were runners-up in 2012 and 2014. Twelve countries competed in 2018, including the Dominican Republic for the first time. The next World Cup will be in 2020.


Women’s Baseball in Other Countries

Japan has had a professional women’s team – the Japanese Women’s Baseball League (JWBL) – since 2009 when a wealthy business owner invested. While the league has only four teams, their success can be linked to more than 25 private high schools having women’s baseball teams as a funnel for the league.

Australia is currently seeking to fund a professional women’s baseball league. They have set up a donation website called A League of Her Own.

Canada has a national team as well as ten provincial girls baseball websites. Teams include Junior National 18U, Senior National, and Women’s National.

Europe has the Confederation of European Baseball and is currently (July 31 – August 3, 2019) the first-ever Women’s European Baseball Championship in Rouen, France.

There are many more but these particular countries have really stepped up to the plate to take a proactive approach to women’s baseball.


Wrap Up

My goal was not to cover every aspect of women and girls playing baseball today but to demonstrate that it is growing – it is real – it is here to stay. Females desire to play baseball versus softball – they are not the same sport! We must continue the mission of the many amazing organizations and help the desire for women to play baseball be realized without having to battle norms and be a “trailblazer” each and every day.

In Part III of this series, I will seek to build a business case for a women’s professional baseball league. As always, I welcome your ideas and collegial debate. Together, we can do anything!


On a related note, it was recently announced that SABR’s Arizona Fall League Experience will be focused on women in baseball, co-hosted by the International Women’s Baseball Center, and held in conjunction with the Arizona Fall League. It will take place in Phoenix, AZ October 10-12, 2019. For full event and registration information, please check here.


Please visit these organizations and follow them on social media:

Organization & Website Facebook Twitter Instagram
All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Facebook Twitter
International Women’s Baseball Center  Facebook Twitter Instagram
Baseball For All Facebook Twitter Instagram
Women Belong in Baseball Facebook Twitter Instagram
USA Baseball Facebook Twitter Instagram
USA Women’s Baseball Team Facebook

It’s Women in Baseball Week

It's Women in Baseball Week

It’s Women in Baseball Week

by Rebecca Herman

July 23, 2019

When you hear the phrase “women in baseball” … what is the first thing that comes to mind?

If you thought, “A League of Their Own” you are not alone! The 1992 film was a box office hit and brought awareness and even celebrity to the women who played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) from 1943 to 1954.

Would you be surprised to learn that the St. Louis Black Bronchos played in 1910-1911? They were a black women’s baseball team, managed by Conrad Kuebler, who played men’s teams across the Midwest and Southwest.  The Boston Bloomer Girls were somewhat of a novelty act but highly successful at baseball for decades (1890s-1930s). What about Jackie Mitchell? As the story goes, she was a 17-year-old pitcher who struck out Ruth and Gehrig in 1931. Following the AAGPBL, three women played in the previously all-male Negro League in the 1950s.  Toni Stone with the Kansas City Monarchs and Mamie “Peanut” Johnson and Connie Morgan with the Indianapolis Clowns.

But it didn’t end there. Ila Borders pitched professionally from 1997 to 2000. Eri Yoshida was Japan’s first professional female baseball player. Founder of Baseball for All, Justine Siegal became the first woman to coach a men’s professional baseball team. She also has thrown batting practices for the Cleveland Indians at Spring Training in 2011 and the guest instructor for the Oakland Athletics Instructional League in 2015.

Young girls, teens, and women want to play baseball.

Did you know there is a Women’s Baseball World Cup? It began in 2004 with only five teams and had twelve national squads compete in 2018. While USA Baseball won in 2004 and 2006 since 2008 Japan has dominated and the US women want to change that!

The 2019 Women’s National Team will compete in the Women’s Pan-American Championships August 18-25 in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Five-time Team USA alumna, Veronica Alvarez, was recently named as manager for the team.

July 21-27, 2019 is Women in Baseball Week. The International Women’s Baseball Center describes this as a worldwide event to recognize the value, diversity, and cultural signification of women in baseball. The theme for this year is “The Future is Now.” The Louisville Slugger Museum is hosting a special Women in Baseball display this week (July 21-27, 2019). For this first time, the AAGPBL hosted a girls baseball camp July 19-21 at the Atlanta Braves Spring Training facilities. For more exhibits and activities, please check with the Women in Baseball 2019 Events Calendar.

Share your stories of women in baseball with the hashtags #WomenInBaseballWeek #StepUpToThePlate #TheFutureIsNow

 

 

 

The Journey to Cooperstown

The Journey to Cooperstown

by Rebecca Herman

July 19, 2019

Thousands of baseball fans and sports media are making their way to Cooperstown, NY for the National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend. Those enshrined at Cooperstown and about to be inducted certainly encompass one definition of a Major League Leader. Just thinking about the weekend brings a smile to my face as I remember our journey there last year!

Hall of Fame Museum

A visit to Cooperstown by any baseball fan would not be complete without spending time in the Museum.  Induction weekend is busy so plan to get there early in the morning – better yet – become a museum member and get in ahead of the crowds!


Saturday, July 20, 2019, there will be three events.

  • Noon – 2:00 PM – Conversations at Doubleday Field
    At noon, Brian Kenny will facilitate a conversation with former Spink and Frick Award winners. At 1:00 PM the Bob Feller Act of Valor Foundation will celebrate baseball’s commitment to the military. Finally, at 2:00 PM Tom Hutyler, the Mariners PA Announcer, will host a celebration of Edgar Martinez.
  • 4:30 PM – Awards Presentation at Doubleday Field
    The J.G. Taylor Spink Award for baseball writing will be presented to Jayson Stark followed by the presentation of the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters honoring Al Helfer posthumously.
  • 6:00 – 7:00 PM – Hall of Fame Parade of Legends
    Always a great time for all fans in attendance, the Hall of Fame members in attendance will ride down Main Street.

Sunday, July 21, 2019, at 1:30 PM – Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

This is the crown jewel of the weekend and shouldn’t be missed. That said, plan ahead to ensure a great time. The baseballhall.org has great guides for parking, access, and all you need to know to be there as history is made once again!


The Class of 2019

This year’s class features two Designated Hitters – Harold Baines and Edgar Martinez; two Starting Pitchers – Mike Mussina and Roy Halladay; and two Relief Pitchers – Lee Smith and Mariano Rivera. Two individuals were elected by the Veterans Committee and the others by the BBWAA. For the first time in history, someone earned a unanimous vote – Mariano Rivera.

Table of 2019 Baseball HOF Voting
2019 Baseball HOF Voting

The inductees played for 15 teams ranging from 1980-2013 and represent 111 years of baseball playing experience. Roy Halladay is receiving the honor posthumously as he lost his life in 2017 in a plane crash. Halladay is the first person to be elected posthumously by the BBWAA since Roberto Clemente in 1973.

2019 Baseball HOF Inductee Information
2019 Baseball HOF Inductee Information

Not surprisingly, this class won many awards and played in numerous All-Star Games. In fact, from 1983 to 2013 they made a combined appearance 46 times in a total of 25 games including 18 games where 2 or more of the inductees were present the same year.

2019 Baseball HOF Inductee Awards
2019 Baseball HOF Inductee Awards

Each honoree has a career record that demonstrates their commitment to excellence.

The Designated Hitters:

2019 Baseball HOF Hitter Stats
2019 Baseball HOF Hitter Stats

The Starting Pitchers:

2019 Baseball HOF Pitcher Stats
2019 Baseball HOF Pitcher Stats

The Relief Pitchers:

2019 Baseball HOF Reliever Stats
2019 Baseball HOF Reliever Stats

 


It is sure to be a grand weekend and one we can enjoy in person or from afar. Congratulations to each of the inductees – take in every moment – you earned it!