There are no girls in baseball.
Now, please, don’t bring up A League of Their Own or the All-American Girls’ Professional Baseball League in general. That was a stop-gap measure, a way for baseball to stay in the public eye during war. With skorts.
What I’m asking is why, in the 21st century, when athleticism of all types is lauded and encouraged, and when it’s widely, if not universally accepted that women are as capable and talented as men, why, oh why, are there no Major League Baseball players who are women?
Yes, I know all about Eri Yoshida and the fact that she’s the first female professional baseball player in Japan having been signed to the "Kobe 9 Cruise" at age 16, and currently playing for the Chico Outlaws in California.
She pitches a sidearm knuckleball that has been clocked at about 53 mph. Her other pitches come in at around 61 mph. It's not likely she’ll be striking out the likes of Ichiro with that. Still, it’s a hopeful sign, a girl on a baseball team.
Why didn’t it happen in America first?
It’s not like we lack talented female athletes in this country. Chelsea Baker, 13, another knuckleballer, learned the pitch from the great Joe Niekro.
She may well be the best Little League pitcher in America, not just in her hometown of Plant City, Florida. She is a perennial all star and hasn’t lost a game in four years.
Male or female, teenager or adult, that’s saying something. She ought to be getting scouted in a couple of years, if she’s able to play baseball in high school and isn’t relegated to the more “girl appropriate” realm of softball.
Maybe two adolescent knuckleballers aren’t enough to convince major league teams to send scouts looking for estrogen-producing players.
Well then, there’s also Katie Brownell, a little league pitcher who, along with Baker, has her jersey in Cooperstown because she threw a perfect game in 2005.
Or Alta Weiss, who pitched for various semi-pro teams from 1906 to the mid-1920s, even after she became a medical doctor in 1914; in fact, baseball was how she paid for medical school.
Tiffany Brooks? Ila Borders? Both pitchers, both play in independent professional leagues, neither has ever played in MLB.
Then there’s Jackie Mitchell. In 1931, while signed to the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Southern Association’s Double-A league, she pitched in an exhibition game against the New York Yankees.
First batter she faced and struck out? Babe Ruth. The second? Lou Gehrig. Not too shabby for a one-pitch wonder who had a nasty 12-6 curveball and great control.
Sick of hearing about pitchers? How about Toni Stone, then? Look her up if you want.
Toni Stone played second base for a lot of years, beginning with a semi-pro men’s team when she was just 15, and wound up in the Negro Leagues, where a female ball player in the 30s was no more welcome than her black male counterparts were in MLB.
Stone batted .280 for the San Francisco Sea Lions, then wound up on the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro League, where she played 50 games, batted .243, and got a hit off none other than Satchel Paige.
When Stone left the Clowns, they brought on two more women. One, an infielder named Connie Johnson. The other, a pitcher named Mamie “Peanut” Johnson.
Toni Stone was a great baseball player and most people have never heard of her.
I know there really aren’t any women playing in any other “male-dominated” professional sports. There are no women players in the National Basketball Association or the National Football League, or on the U.S. Soccer team. Women don’t compete with men in the PGA, either.
NASCAR and the NHRA have women competing on the same level as the men, and that’s great.
Still, the women named above are proof that women can and should play baseball. If there is a sport in which a woman doesn’t need to be as big or strong or fast as a man, it’s baseball.
The great American pastime is the logical place to begin gender integration of professional sports. A woman can, and someday should, make the seminal play of a game, or score the winning run in the World Series. It's time for this to come to pass, and it’s not happening. I just have to wonder why.
Should there be women in MLB? Do you know a great female ball player who should have that opportunity? Can a woman play baseball as well as a man?
Let me know what you think by posting below.
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