News

Undergraduates Celebrate Second Consecutive Virtual Housing Day

News

Dean of Students Office Discusses Housing Day, Anti-Racism Goals

News

Renowned Cardiologist and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Bernard Lown Dies at 99

News

Native American Nonprofit Accuses Harvard of Violating Federal Graves Protection and Repatriation Act

News

U.S. Reps Assess Biden’s Progress on Immigration at HKS Event

Panelists: More Opportunities Needed for Women in Baseball

By Hui K. Kuok

At a forum last night on "Breaking Barriers: Women and Baseball," three panelists delivered a clear and united message: more opportunities need to be created for women and baseball.

Speaking to a crowd of about 80 people at the Institute of Politics, David King, the panel's moderator and associate professor of public policy at the Kennedy School of Government, opened the discussion by calling for a "celebration of baseball past, present and future."

"Baseball is America," King said. "Nothing exemplifies the civic life of America more than baseball." He said that it was therefore important to "learn about baseball's past and future with respect to women."

The microphone was then handed over to Julie Croteau, the first female assistant coach in baseball history for the men's NCAA Division I baseball team at the University of Massachusetts and a former player for the Colorado Silver Bullets.

She spoke of her childhood experiences, when she had desperately wanted to play baseball, but was denied the opportunity to do so at every level of her high school career because of her gender.

"Baseball has to accept women and diversity," Croteau said. "A lot of girls and women would be standing here persuading you of this if they could.... We need to do something to embrace girls into baseball."

This sentiment was echoed by fervent Dodgers fan and former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers.

"Before politics, I loved baseball," Myers said. She said that while 50 percent of baseball fans are female, the sport has not provided any career paths for women.

This pertains to the front office as well as the field. For instance, Myers said that "unlike most other sports, baseball has no female commentators," and emphasized Croteau's previous point that more opportunities must be created.

According to Wanda Rutledge, deputy director of USA Baseball, 200,000 girls play the sport at youth level (under the age of 12), yet the numbers dwindle after that stage because girls are later deterred from playing baseball.

Instead, they are encouraged to channel their interest in baseball toward softball. "In my high school, there were softball tryouts for girls, and baseball tryouts for boys," Croteau said.

Rutledge said that USA Baseball has recognized this problem, and is "creating programs directly geared towards female baseball."

"We can't expect 11- to 12-year-old girls to take on the system," said Rutledge. "Interest has to trickle down from top-level initiatives."

Speaking from his experience as a manager for the Colorado Silver Bullets Female Professional Baseball Team, Hall of Fame inductee Phil Niekro described his initial skepticism toward a female baseball team.

Because the women had been trained to play softball rather than baseball, "spring training was a lot of work," he recalled.

"In our first game, in 1994, we won six games out of 60; last years we won 27 games out of 60," he said. "We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go."

King asked the panelists to predict when women players would enter the major league, and the positions that they would occupy.

All answered that while they could envision women players in the minor leagues fairly soon, it would be some time before a woman player would be admitted into the major leagues.

"[It will] definitely happen during my lifetime," predicted Crotreau. Niekro agreed, saying, "the eight, nine, 10-year-old girls now will probably be the first major-league players."

None except King was able to give an precise answer. "I have a specific prediction, because I have three daughters and I want them all to play," he said

Speaking from his experience as a manager for the Colorado Silver Bullets Female Professional Baseball Team, Hall of Fame inductee Phil Niekro described his initial skepticism toward a female baseball team.

Because the women had been trained to play softball rather than baseball, "spring training was a lot of work," he recalled.

"In our first game, in 1994, we won six games out of 60; last years we won 27 games out of 60," he said. "We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go."

King asked the panelists to predict when women players would enter the major league, and the positions that they would occupy.

All answered that while they could envision women players in the minor leagues fairly soon, it would be some time before a woman player would be admitted into the major leagues.

"[It will] definitely happen during my lifetime," predicted Crotreau. Niekro agreed, saying, "the eight, nine, 10-year-old girls now will probably be the first major-league players."

None except King was able to give an precise answer. "I have a specific prediction, because I have three daughters and I want them all to play," he said

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

Tags