National Women in Baseball Day


File:1943 South Bend Blue Sox.jpg

1943 South Bend Blue Sox (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Today is National Women in Baseball Day (not to be confused with National Girls and Women in Sports Day, February 6, or Women’s Baseball Day, September 11). The day marks the day – May 30, 1943 – that the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League played their first game. The first games were played in Rockford and Racine, with the South Bend Blue Sox playing the Rockford Peaches and the Kenosha Comets facing the Racine Belles.

~ baseballrebecca

 

Advertisements

Women in the Locker Room


Melissa_Ludtke_March_2013

Melissa Ludtke, March 2013. Photo courtesy of Whoisjohngalt via Wikipedia.com

On March 9, 1979, then-Commissioner of Baseball Bowie Kuhn instructed MLB teams to give access to locker rooms to female reporters. Kuhn’s edict was in response to a 1978 court ruling that found MLB guilty of discriminating against female reporters. The case stemmed from an incident during the 1977 World Series in which Sports Illustrated reporter Melissa Ludtke was denied access to the New York Yankees clubhouse for post-game interviews because she was a woman.  In 1978, the district court decided that Ludtke’s fourteenth amendment right was violated as well as “her fundamental right to pursue her profession.”

The court did not specify how MLB was to provide equal access to reporters for locker room interviews. The Yankees’ solution was to declare that all reporters would be given 10 minutes to interview players after a game, but then would have to leave for 30 minutes to allow the players to shower. MLB soon realized such a solution was not optimal.

Bowie_Kuhn_1982

Bowie Kuhn, 1982. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

In March 1979, Kuhn announced that each club could set their own policy for locker room access. Later, Ludtke pointed out that such a policy did not provide equal, consistent access, making it difficult for women as they reported on different clubs. She was quoted as saying, “Baseball has succeeded brilliantly in making equal access appear as a moral and not a political problem, and as sexy, but not the sexist issue that it is. I, and others like me, were presented as women who wanted nothing more than to wander aimlessly around a locker room, to stare endlessly at naked athletes and to invade the privacy of individuals whose privacy had already been disrupted for years by our male colleagues.”

While the issue was decided in the courts, there is evidence that the struggle for equal access continues.

~ baseballrebecca

Ila Borders: Breaking Barriers


borders-ilaTwenty years ago today, Ila Borders broke barriers in baseball when she became the first woman to pitch in a professional minor league baseball game. In 1997, Borders signed with the St. Paul Saints and played in her first game on May 31. Borders was also the first women to receive a college scholarship to play men’s baseball, the first woman to earn a win in college baseball, and the first woman to earn a win in a professional baseball game.

Today Borders is a firefighter and paramedic in Portland, OR, but she still makes time to talk about her experiences in baseball. The St. Paul Saints recently had an Ila Borders bobblehead giveaway to commemorate the 20th anniversary of her first game and her book, Making My Pitch: A Woman’s Baseball Odyssey, was published last month.

Other women’s firsts in baseball include:

  • Jackie Mitchell, the first woman to pitch for a minor league team, the Chattanooga Lookouts, in an exhibition game in 1931.
  • Toni Stone, the first of three women to play in the Negro Leagues. Stone played for the barnstorming team, the San Francisco Sea Lions, in 1945 before signing with the New Orleans Creoles in 1949. (The other women to play for the Negro Leagues were Mamie Johnson and Connie Morgan.)
  • Mamie Johnson, the first woman pitcher in the Negro Leagues. She signed with the Indianapolis Clowns in 1953.
  • Eri Yoshida, the first woman drafted by a Japanese professional baseball team. Yoshida signed with the Kobe 9 Cruise of the Kansai Independent Baseball League in 2008.

Happy anniversary, Ila!

~ baseballrebecca

Happy International Signing Day!


“World Map – Rainbow Bliss Baseball Square” by Andee Design, photo courtesy of FineArtAmerica.com

Last week, a 16-year old baseball player, Melissa Mayeux, made history by becoming the first female baseball player to be added to the MLB international registration list. This means that she could conceivably become the first female major leaguer. (Note that this all happened one day before the 43rd anniversary of the passage of Title IX, commonly known for providing equal opportunity for girls in sports.)

Today is the day that teams can start signing players on list. But first, what is the international registration list? New international signing rules were implemented in 2012 with the latest MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement. Teams must follow this process in order to sign international amateurs. According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com:

“An international player is eligible to sign with a Major League team between July 2 through June 15 of next year if the prospect turns 17 before Sept. 1 of this year or by the completion of his first Minor League season. Additionally, any prospect who is already 17 or older and has not previously signed a Major or Minor League contract, resides outside the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico and has not been enrolled in a high school or college in the U.S., Canada or Puerto Rico within the previous year is eligible to sign during the period.”

Ok, so that’s a little confusing. Basically, 16-year olds in countries not subject to the MLB draft (i.e., everywhere by the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico) become eligible to sign with MLB teams on July 2 every year as long as they registered with MLB by May 1. If you’re already 17, you don’t need to register.

But being registered doesn’t mean you will get signed. After Melissa was placed on the international registration list, The New York Daily News had an interesting article about how likely it was that she – or any woman – would sign with MLB any time soon. Even MLB.com’s Lindsay Berra says it’s not likely that Mayeux will sign with anyone.

Right now, Mayeux is at an MLB hitting camp in Germany where she’ll get hitting instruction from former Oriole (Diamondback, etc.) Steve Finley. Later this summer she’ll be at the European baseball championship in the Czech Republic, and then it’s on to MLB’s European Elite Camp in the Netherlands. One thing is for sure: it’s good to be 16!

For a continually updated list of the top international prospects and who is getting signed, go to Baseball America.com.

~ baseballrebecca