Newsflash: Girls Can Play Baseball Too!

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While Jackie Robinson's achievements as the first African American major league baseball player are well documented, very few people know about Ila Borders - the first female pitcher in integrated men's professional baseball and the first woman to win a men's professional game in the independent leagues. Nor do they know about the 17 girls that have played in the 68-year history of the Little League World Series. But thanks to 13-year-old pitching phenom Mo'ne Davis, that has all changed.

With knee-buckling curveballs and 70 mph fastballs, the five-foot teenage pitcher who plays for Philadelphia's Taney Dragons doesn't just play with the boys, she dominates them. Davis and 12-year-old Kayla Roncin who plays for Tom River Little League in New Jersey, first garnered the world's attention in early August, as the only two girls among the hundreds of kids on the 52 teams in the regional finals.

While Roncin's team was not among the 8 US teams that made it to the 2014 Little League World Series in South Williamsport, PA, Davis and her Taney Dragons were just a game away from the World Championships, when they lost to Chicagoon August, 21st. But that did not matter because by then Davis was the hero of every young girl that has ever dreamed of playing baseball. Within a span of a week, she became the first girl to earn a win and pitch a shutout in the history of the Little League World Series as well as the youngest athlete to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated!

A record 34,128 fans lined up at South Williamsport's Lamande Stadium on Wednesday, August 20th, to witness the young baseball phenom's game against Las Vegas, while an astounding 5.59 million viewers tuned in to ESPN, crushing the network's 11-year-old Little League audience record of 3.3 million.

While the support is heartwarming, it also begs the question - Did all these fans watch because Davis is a great baseball player or because she is a female doing well in what is commonly perceived as a male sport? Malaika Underwood, an infielder with the USA Baseball women's national team believes it's the latter and thinks that most people are missing the forest for the trees - they are so focused on the fact that Davis is playing with boys, that they are missing the bigger picture - girls can play baseball too!

Unfortunately, that may be hard to do. One of the biggest knocks against women being great baseball players is that they have shorter strides and lower velocity, which makes them less effective as pitchers. However, a 2009 study performed on elite men and women baseball players concluded that there was no valid physical reason for those shortcomings.

In fact, Glenn Fleisig the research director at the American Sports Medicine Institute, who worked on the paper, said it was more the similarities than the differences between the male and female athletes that stood out to him. He thinks that the real reason more women are not part of the minor baseball league has to do with numbers - According to the National Federation of State High School Association, only 1,259 of the 476,050 or less than 0.5% high school players in 2012-2013, were girls. Yet there were 362,488 girls playing fastpitch softball!

Does this mean girls are just not interested in playing baseball? Not so, according to Fleisig - he thinks it has more to do with the culture. Most men believe that girls are not strong enough to play. Even the legendary Babe Ruth quipped "I don’t know what’s going to happen if they begin to let women in baseball. […] They are too delicate. It would kill them to play ball every day," when he found out that 17-year-old Jackie Mitchell would playing against him in an exhibition game. Even the fact that Mitchell struck both him and Lou Gehrig out, was not enough to convince him otherwise.

Ila Borders who tried fighting the establishment, has experienced this bias first hand. During her short four-year professional baseball career, she was beaten up, chased with a knife and even subjected to several death threats. What's even more disheartening is that not much has changed. Kayla Roncin says she sometimes gets booed during the regular season.

So with athletes like Mo'ne Davis giving a whole new meaning to the phase "throwing like a girl" will things finally change? Mike Marshall, the former Dodgers outfielder who signed Eri Yoshida, the last woman to play U.S. men’s professional baseball, certainly thinks. He says it will just take one woman that can play second base to rejuvenate interest in the game.

His only regret is that it will not be Davis - That's because the young girl has no plans to pursue a professional baseball career. Her eyes are set on becoming the point guard for the University of Connecticut women's basketball team, before moving on to the WNBA. Her advice to teens? "(don't) let anyone stop you from doing what you like."

Resources: latimes.com,espn.go.com,cnn.com,wikipedia.org

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662 Comments
  • honeybadger1313
    honeybadger1313Wednesday, July 22, 2020 at 7:31 am
    I used to play a little at school, just for fun and one of my best friends, { he just happens to be a boy} was telling me I did really well. But then one of his teammates walked up to me and said, "You should be cleaning up our area. Thats what girls do." NEVER GIVE UP GIRLS YOU GOT THIS!
    • leiker1414
      leiker1414Sunday, July 5, 2020 at 6:20 pm
      That's so 😎. I play on my brothers team.
      • soccerrules13
        soccerrules13Monday, April 20, 2020 at 1:55 pm
        AMAZING!!!!😄
        • aram3243
          aram3243Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 10:36 pm
          One BIG yay to girls
          • booboo12
            booboo12Thursday, March 19, 2020 at 9:05 am
            Looloo12 is right and we both play solfball!⚾⚾
            • teen_girl
              teen_girlSaturday, March 7, 2020 at 2:45 pm
              I don`t play base ball but , go girls!!!!
              • teen_girl
                teen_girlSaturday, March 7, 2020 at 2:45 pm
                #GIRLPOWER ;)
                • slothsage
                  slothsageTuesday, February 25, 2020 at 11:25 am
                  I am a girl and I love baseball so much and everyone says I am so good, not trying to brag, sorry. I am the only girl on my team and I love all sports so much, I also pitch and catch.
                  • williamdavis
                    williamdavisWednesday, February 19, 2020 at 10:29 am
                    I played baseball when I was 8 and 9 and all I hit was DINGERS to 3rd and home base I have videos of me doing it I'm not trying to brag because baseball is hard trust me I was the 2nd best on the team it was fun playing it I suggest if your gonna play sports to play base you'll get better and better like the first time I started i could not hit one single ball but 2 months later I was hitting home runs the first I made was down but it bounced over his head and I got to 2nd base I was happy I would always strike out my coach would just tell me to hustle. The first home run I hit was out of the park we won the championship by the way I played for the Angels then I quit because I got hurt I was catcher and he was coming in hot my pitcher threw to me and he slid he was out but he popped my ankle out so I quit that was the end of my baseball career.
                    • leiker1414
                      leiker1414Sunday, July 5, 2020 at 6:16 pm
                      Hope your ok. That happened to me too.
                    • looloo12
                      looloo12Thursday, February 6, 2020 at 5:25 pm
                      If softball was easy it would be baseball