The Sonoma Stompers of the Pacific Association never shy away from doing something different when it comes to baseball.
They were the first professional team to have an openly gay player, pitcher Sean Conroy. Usually a relief pitcher, Conroy ended up being the starting pitcher on the team’s pride night last year. He pitched a complete game shutout that night while his teammates wore rainbow colored socks and armbands showing their support.
Last year, the Stompers also allowed two statistically driven baseball writers to work as part of their baseball operations department.
This year, they are making history by signing two female players for the month of July. The team has announced that they have signed Kelsie Whitmore, 17, and Stacy Piagno, 25.
Both players are scheduled to start in Friday’s game (July 1st) against the San Rafael Pacifics with Whitmore playing in left field and Piagno on the mound.
Whitmore played varsity baseball in high school and has a softball scholarship to Cal-State Fullerton. Piagno has played on the U.S. Women’s National Team and played college softball.
The team’s GM, Theo Fightmaster, told MLB.com that this isn’t just a publicity stunt for his team.
“This isn’t a one-day event. That’s been done a dozen times. Let’s give women a chance to be part of a team, let’s give women a chance to play against men. What will they learn? What have they not been coached because they haven’t had the same coaching as boys? I remember being really disappointed with my sister’s coaches because they coached the girls a lot different than how I was coached.”
Fightmaster wants to raise awareness for female baseball players and also hopes that this is only the beginning for American women in baseball. Even though some countries such as Japan already have strong women baseball teams, America has been far behind in that respect.
“There’s not enough places or ways for women to play baseball in this country,” Fightmaster says. “Women get funneled into softball — if they want to play baseball, they end up playing softball.”
There’s no predicting how the women will do, but after their first start, they will be fighting for playing time like the rest of the players.
“Both of these girls are on the roster,” Fightmaster said. “They’re gonna play however much they earn. They are not gonna be in the starting lineup every night so we can sell more tickets. It’s a big game on July 1 and they’ll both be in the lineup and after that we’ll see what their performance dictates.”
We will continue to follow how the women do in their month with the Stompers; However after July, Whitmore will be leaving to go begin her college career while Piagno will be starting a career in teaching.