When will the first female step onto a major league diamond? Thoughts from a new contributor follow.
Since the passage of Title IX, the number of females participating in intercollegiate sports is now over 207,000. How many of them have ever received a scholarship in baseball? Zero. Until now. At the beginning of this month, a college in Houston, Texas has broken things wide open.
Sarah Hudek, a freshman pitcher at Bossier Parish Community College, is currently the only female college baseball player in the United States and is the first woman to ever receive a baseball scholarship. Check out her story: BPCC Baseball to Sign Female Pitcher. An elite athlete, Sarah has been striking guys out left and right for quite some time. And she’s only a freshman! But what makes her particularly admirable is her humility. She recently notched her first victory. That’s all she really cares about. Helping her team win while playing the sport she loves.
This is huge news and a gigantic step forward in enabling women to don a baseball uniform with the hopes of competing on the same playing field formerly limited to men only. Major League Baseball is the next hurdle. Let’s examine the arduous road females have taken.
Since 1974, when the Little League Federal Charter was amended to allow females to participate, there have been only 18 Girls Who Have Made Little League Baseball World Series History. Out of so many players! I am in awe of these history makers, yet disappointed that their numbers are so few. Why is this the case? Why haven’t more girls reached the level that Mo’ne Davis did when she became the first female to win a game in the LLWS? America watched Mo’ne work her pitches with delight and admiration. But her recent decision to pursue basketball was at the same time a death sentence to the path she could have continued to forge in baseball. She chose to go where the money is. There are, sadly, very few colleges, that award scholarships to females for baseball. In fact, only one. All of the scholarship money comes from softball. It is where girls are pushed to go after little league or high school. How ironic that the game of baseball was first played by English girls and boys but as of today, women are still mistakenly viewed as unable to keep up with men. BPCC should be heralded and emulated by colleges in other states.
I want to make one thing clear. I am, in no way, knocking softball. I love softball and the way its rules and strategy differ from baseball. Both of our daughters excelled at it. Legends like Jennie Finch and Jessica Mendoza have carried the sport to an entirely new level. But there are many women in college who want to play baseball instead. They are fantastic athletes. Why aren’t they being given the same scholarship opportunities as men? Why are they being overlooked in current minor leagues? Someone needs to break these outdated inequities down in a big way. It’s time for women to get past the MLB barrier.
Author Jennifer Ring has a book out called, Stolen Bases: Why American Girls Don’t Play Baseball. She was recently interviewed by Emily Shire of The Daily Beast.
Ring stated, “There are a lot of institutional impediments in the U.S. that don’t exist in other countries.”
She also told Shire, “We are Neanderthals in claiming this is a national pastime and keeping it closed to half the nation.” These are powerful words.
Melissa Mayeux, is a 16-year-old French phenom. She recently became the first female to be added to the international registration list, meaning she could feasibly become the first female MLB player. The United States needs to catch up to other countries like France and Japan when it comes to changing the status quo. Let’s add more American women to prospect lists. Just because they can’t hit balls out does not mean they can’t be lethal in other areas of the game. Particularly pitching, in my opinion.
Women could be, at the very least, bullpen pitchers to start off with. Middle relief talent pools that would come in and get those valuable outs with a nasty curve or slider. If Jackie Mitchell could strike out the Babe and the Iron Horse in 1931 then I’m positive other talented ladies could do the same to Miguel Cabrera or Bryce Harper. Women could also be dangerous placement hitters. The strategy utilized during a MLB game that includes females is endless. Yet, it has to first begin.
Last year, the USA Baseball Women’s National Team brought home the gold at the Pan American Games. Their roster included a plethora of top-notch athletes who could most likely hold their own on any MLB diamond across this great country of ours. These women are carrying the torch that their predecessors started out with in such notable leagues as the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.
I challenge the Chicago Cubs and other MLB teams to open up their minor league camps to more women. HERlers and agents unite! Here’s to a sport that will eventually showcase phenomenal athletes of both sexes.
Editor’s note: Sue Draper is a lifelong Cubs fan and will be sharing her thoughts on baseball on Chicago Cubs Online. Sue gives the site a different voice and perspective. You can read more about Sue on her personal blog suedraper.blogspot.com. I hope our readers take a minute and welcome Sue to The CCO.