Baseball has forever been considered a man’s sport. It appeals to every aspect of masculinity; millions of young, athletic kids want to be Derek Jeter or Bryce Harper when they grow up. Even fantasy baseball evokes images of males of the nerdier sort huddled in their mom’s basement selecting their heroes in draft format.
As young women are ushered through grade school and then high school, their spring sport on the diamond is limited to softball. Many girls never even get the opportunity to throw a hardball around with the boys. Take for example UNC Chapel Hill’s baseball Elite Prospect’s camp. The program’s website states the camp is “open to any and all entrants. (Limited only by number, age, and grade level and gender.)”
These days professional baseball is enjoyed recreationally just as much by females as it is by males. It’s clear, however, that a young woman’s odds of becoming the shortstop of the New York Yankees as a life goal are slim. The good news is that there are some women in the baseball world who are starting to turn some heads with their play and involvement in the game. There has never been a woman to play in the Major Leagues. Might that soon change? Let’s take a look at some of the potential trailblazers …
#1. Melissa Mayeux
Melissa Mayeux is a baller. She is a shortstop on the French U-18 junior national team, and she also became the first known female baseball player to be added to MLB’s international registration list in the summer of 2015, which made her eligible to be signed by a Major League club on July 2. While she didn’t get signed, she’s still working toward her dream. She has been training at MLB’s Elite Development Camp in the Netherlands, where she is the first woman ever to participate, and has been showcasing her sweet swing for some base knocks there.
Mayeux has previously stated that her goals are to make the 2017 French team for the World Baseball Classic, and ultimately, to some day play in the United States.
#2. Sarah Hudek
Want to play college baseball this season? Think you can make a bullpen spot? Well if you are thinking of playing for Bossier Parish Community College in Louisiana, you’ll have pass crafty lefty Sarah Hudek. Hudek, the daughter of former Major Leaguer John Hudek, has an 82-mile-per-hour fastball and has already been winning games for BPCC.
Hudek is the first woman ever to earn a college scholarship for the sport of baseball. She is the only woman playing college baseball this season. She also looks pretty badass wearing those gray and purple Bossier threads.
#3. Ghazaleh Sailors
Prior to Hudek this season, Ghazaleh Sailors was the only woman playing college ball in both 2014 and 2015. Sailers, whose friends call her “Oz”, pitched and was a backup second baseman for the University of Maine-Presque Isle.
Sailors’ dream to play pro ball continued after her graduation last year, as she signed a contract to play for the Virginia Marlins of the World Baseball Pro League. She said that opportunity arose after she pitched a great game against Averett University whose coach, Ed Fulton, is the brother of the Marlins manager/GM, Frank Fulton.
#4. Mo’ne Davis
You know the name. She was the first Little Leaguer to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, male or female. Her dominating pitching in the summer of 2014 at the tender age of 13 nearly brought her Taney Dragons team the Little League world championship. But if you ask Mo’ne Davis herself, she’d be more inclined to profess a dream to play professional basketball than she would baseball.
While her mindset may be a function of the gender segregation that exists in baseball for adults, some still believe she has the tools that could make her the first female Major League Baseball pitcher if she sets her mind to it.
“I predict that she’s going to be the first lady in the major league,” said Mamie “Peanut” Johnson during the 2014 LLWS. Johnson provides a unique perspective on the matter, as she was a pioneer in her own right. Johnson was one of three female players to ever play in the 40-year history of the Negro Leagues.
#5. Justine Siegal
Equal rights in professional baseball isn’t restricted to the playing field. Being a coach or instructor as a part of the Old Boys Club might just be an easier avenue to take, at least initially, to break the barrier and get women into Major League Baseball. Justine Siegal is trying to do just that.
The Oakland A’s made Siegal, who just a few years ago became the first woman to throw batting practice for a Major League team, a guest instructor for the club’s instructional league. The move made the always progressive A’s the first Major League team to hire a female coach.
In 2009, Siegal became the first woman to be hired as a coach at any pro level when she served as the first-base coach for the independent team Brockton Rox. Siegel holds a Ph.D. in sport and exercise psychology from Springfield College, and an M.A. from Kent State University in sport studies, making her an ideal candidate for the groundbreaking moment.