The Normal Cornbelters have made history by hiring the first female coach in the Frontier League. Justine Siegal has taken a permanent coaching position with the Cornbelters as they make a run for the playoffs.
(Photo Credit: Lori Ann Cook-Neisler, The Pantagraph)
Siegal, founder of Baseball For All – a nonprofit organization that works towards meaningful opportunities, instruction and gender equality in youth baseball, has been making history in professional baseball for the last 7 years.
In 2009, she became the first female coach of a men’s professional baseball team when she coached first base for the Brockton Rox, who were then a part of the Can-Am league.
Siegal was also the first woman to ever throw batting practice to an MLB team when she threw to the Cleveland Indians in 2011 during spring training. In addition to the Indians, she has thrown BP to the Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays, St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros, and New York Mets.
In 2015, she made even more history as the first female to coach for a major league team when the Oakland A’s hired her to coach during their fall instructional league.
Siegal is more than qualified for the job on paper as well. She holds a B.A. from St. Olaf College with a concentration in “Leadership: Religion, Military, and Baseball” – a major that she designed herself, an M.A. in Sport Studies from Kent State University, and a Ph.D. in Sport and Exercise Psychology from Springfield College.
Manager Brooks Carey told the Pantagraph that they haven’t given her a set role with the team for the remainder of the season:
“I’m not going to invent a role for her to play. The next couple days we’ll let her get her feet on the ground and let the guys get to know her.,” Carey said. “She will be just another coach. I hope that happens as quickly as possible, and I have a really good feeling that it will.”
Yesterday (Aug 14), she tweeted that she coached first base while “following the team’s rhythm. Seeing where I can help. Learning as fast as I can.”
She was also given the game ball by first baseman Aaron Dudley to mark her first win as a member of the coaching staff.
(Photo credit: Twitter)
In 2015, Siegal told ESPN W what her coaching means for women in baseball:
Someone said, “To be it, you have to see it.” And now girls can grow up seeing that this is possible, to be a coach, whether that’s local, college and maybe professional. I think the significance is being able to see what you can be. I consider it a huge honor to be a role model to girls in baseball. I love this game.
She is definitely giving girls someone to look up to in the baseball world.