As the new Major League Baseball season kicks off in 2015, it comes with a fresh vision – One Baseball – from the recently welcomed new commissioner Rob Manfred. Commissioner Manfred’s mission and in some ways dedicated focus, is to make sure not only that the game of baseball grows but that inclusion for youth in the game is at the forefront for all fans—to understand that no matter your league, race, city, gender, team, if you play baseball you are part of something bigger, and together we are all One Baseball.
As part of this new movement, I had the pleasure of listening to Justine Siegal present at the 2015 MLB RBI Institute in Orlando, Florida. Justine’s message and mission was to buck the trend of normalcy and let girls know, that they can play baseball if they want, understanding they have that choice. There isn’t a person in this world who understands that choice better given that she was a pioneer who broke the initial gender barrier as the first woman to coach a professional team, The Brockton Rox in 2009, and the first woman to throw batting practice to a MLB team in 2011. I see a direct correlation between her mission and one of Cal, Sr.’s four principles: celebrating the individual. And what better way to celebrate the individual than to let Justine explain her why in her own words?
Below you will find the passion behind her work and the goals she has set forth to break the barrier, push aside the stereotype and truly be uncommon.
“Girls love baseball as much as boys do. Many girls grow up with dreams of playing Major League Baseball and becoming the next Cal or Bill Ripken. Instead of playing baseball like the boys, girls are often told to play softball. Baseball For All empowers girls to believe in themselves by providing opportunities for girls to play baseball and be a part of the game.
As the Founder of Baseball For All, I worry, ‘If you tell a girl she can’t play baseball, what else will she think she can’t do?’
When I was 13 my coach tried to get me to switch from baseball to softball because ‘that's what girls play.’ But I loved baseball, so I ignored that coach and went on to play high school baseball. I then went on to make baseball history by becoming the only woman to coach men’s professional baseball (Brockton Rox, 2009) and the first to throw batting practice to a MLB team (2011). Imagine if I had listened to that coach and gave on my dream and my love?
Girls deserve the right to dream. To encourage the dreams of girls who want to play baseball, Baseball For All is hosting America’s first national girls baseball tournament for ages 10-13. By stepping up to the plate, players will leave with a sense of pride, dignity and accomplishment for having participated, becoming a part of history, and encouraging others to play and support girls baseball. This historic event will bring together the past, the present and promote the future of girls baseball with the added participation of members of the original 1942 All American Girls Professional Baseball League as well as other female baseball pioneers.
The national baseball tournament is in Orlando, May 30–June 4. I encourage all girls who love baseball to either register as an individual or to enter their team. Softball teams are welcome. All that matters is your love for baseball and the desire to play with other girls who love the game just like you. We also have a few need-based scholarships available.
I hope to see you soon on the baseball field!” – Justine Siegal
For more information on Baseball For All, please visit their website: www.baseballforall.com