Tag Archives: Women in Baseball

Normal Cornbelters Hire Justine Siegal

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.

siegal
(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.

first win
(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.

Sonoma Stompers Sign Two Female Players

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.

womenbaseballnetwork

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.