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

Reflections on Women in Baseball Week

2019 Reflections on Women in Baseball Week

Reflections on Women in Baseball Week

By Rebecca Herman
July 31, 2019

I truly enjoyed reading articles and Tweets throughout the Women in Baseball Week, July 21-27, 2019. To be completely transparent – I’ve never played baseball outside of gym class or summer camp and I’ve never truly had a desire to play baseball.  However, that doesn’t change my long-standing love of the game and my desire to see baseball for everyone.

Huge props to the International Women’s Baseball Center for developing and promoting this awareness and celebration event. I received amazing stories from them as well as Women Belong in Baseball, Women’s Baseball UK, and Baseball For All to name a few.  I was also impressed by the collection of stories and promotion by Baseball Prospectus.

As much as I appreciated interacting and learning more and more about what various groups and people were doing, there was some disappointment to not see a lot in the media. Where were ESPN, MLB Diversity & Inclusion, and MLBNetwork that week? Why weren’t they featuring stories about women in baseball or at least sharing the hashtags #WomenInBaseball or #WomenInBaseballWeek?

So why do I care? What got me so immersed in this particular subject?

Over the past year, a work-related project got me immersed in the history of baseball. I am a leadership professor for Purdue University Global and both Purdue University and Professional Baseball celebrated their sesquicentennial anniversaries in 2019. I was asked to create an online, six-week course that would take students on a 150-year journey of American culture, gender, diversity, analytics, business, leadership, and more all through the lens of baseball.

It was through the course creation process that I discovered the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) and that I could become an Associate Member. It was a bit stunning to learn what the women had been doing since their playing days. When I realized they were having a 75th Reunion (2018) in Kansas City, I knew I had to be there. It was an overwhelming experience to meet the women, hear their stories, share in their love of the game, and learn about the many organizations that are working tirelessly to make a home for women to once again play baseball.

I kept digging for information on women in baseball. It would be included in two separate weeks: Unit 2 – Patriotism and Women in Baseball and in Unit 3 – Diversity and Race Relations. My goal was to ensure that my students would leave the class knowing about the role that women played in baseball history, where they are today, and what they desire for the future. I didn’t want fans of America’s Game to be like I was – uninformed! I read books, found articles online, and subscribed to numerous pages on Facebook. The AAGPBL website was incredibly helpful and so were the articles and stories that were regularly shared by the International Women’s Baseball Center (IWBC) and the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR).

After much research, interviews with baseball leaders at the Winter Meetings, teaming up with Purdue’s History professor Randy Roberts, and consultation with MLB’s Official Historian John Thorn, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame: 150 Years” was officially launched. From January through June of this year, nearly 700 students took part in the course: men & women, millennials to baby boomers, casual fans to former collegiate players. Engagement in the various topics included nearly 2000 discussion threads created and almost 4500 replies to those threads. It confirmed what I already thought – people love talking about baseball and there is a wide variety of opinions regarding every related topic. It was an honor and a pleasure to teach and facilitate discussions about all aspects of baseball with so many fans.

One of the most vigorous discussions was about women in baseball. There were those who felt that women should not be involved. Period. However, the vast majority were stunned much like I was to learn about USA Women’s Baseball and that there had just been a Women’s Baseball World Cup. There were fathers who have daughters who love playing baseball and want to keep playing but they weren’t sure of their options. There were women who were channeled into softball and even played at the collegiate level but they desired to play baseball. Title IX discussions were both positive and negative – yes, it had opened many opportunities for women, but the thought remained that it certainly wasn’t about “equality.”

We had numerous lively debates about the viability of having a women’s baseball league today. The previous week we had focused on the business of baseball; thus, my students wanted to challenge the notion of a women’s league from a sustainable business perspective. Each day I was asked another question or given a scenario that led me to do more research. My oh my – it was invigorating to facilitate the thoughts, ideas, and beliefs of such a diverse group of people, and it pushed me to become more and more informed.

While the course ended a month ago, my research inquiry has continued, and I want to share my findings and ideas with you and perhaps open new debate and generate new ideas. I know that many of you reading this may be thinking, “it’s about time!” or “good, you are catching up!” But my hope is that a new group of baseball fans will come to question why there isn’t a women’s baseball league and ask the question – “What can I do to help?”

In Part II of this series, I will share what I have found to exist today and talk a bit about the various groups who are promoting women in baseball. I hope you will stick with me and become both a fan and join me in becoming an advocate of women’s baseball!

For now – a huge THANK YOU to all who have been tirelessly promoting Women in Baseball and for promoting Women in Baseball Week!!!


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