Women's baseball

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Palisade, Colorado women's baseball team, about 1910

Women's baseball is played in several countries. The strongest and most organized women's baseball leagues are in the United States, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, Cuba, Hong Kong, and Canada. Those countries have national governing bodies that support girls' and women's baseball programs. Other countries/regions that currently have organized women's baseball are France, Croatia, the Netherlands, India, Korea, Venezuela, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Pakistan. There also is a handful of women playing baseball in Vietnam currently on the Fishanu team at Hanoi University and on the Hanoi Baseball Club.




Important events and milestones in women's baseball:

1867 — The African American Dolly Vardens of Philadelphia became the first paid baseball team on any level — two years before the first men's professional baseball club, the Cincinnati Red Stockings.

1875 — The first women's baseball game for which fans were charged and women players were paid was played between the Blondes and the Brunettes in Springfield, Illinois on 11 September

1876 — The Resolutes, modeled after the Vassar College team, developed their own version of uniforms which included long-sleeved shirts with frilled high necklines, embroidered belts, wide floor-length skirts, high button shoes and broad striped caps

1880 — A Smith College team was disbanded after disapproving mothers complained about the children playing the sport, saying it was not appropriate for women to play

1898Lizzie Arlington became the first woman to sign a professional baseball contract, while pitching for the Reading Coal Heavers of the Atlantic League.

1890s to 1935 — Women's "Bloomer Girls" clubs barnstormed U.S. and played men’s town, semi-pro, and minor league teams; Bloomer teams had an average of 3 males on them; Rogers Hornsby and Smokey Joe Wood got their starts with Bloomer Girls teams, dressed as women

1900s — Bloomer Girls introduced night baseball games

1904Amanda Clement was the first woman to be paid to umpire a baseball game; she umpired professionally for 6 years after that

1908Maude Nelson was the starting pitcher for the men's Cherokee Indian Base Ball Club

1908 — The famed song "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" was inspired by and written about a young girl's love of the game

1911–16St. Louis Cardinals were owned by Helene Britton

1920s — Philadelphia had factory teams for women, women’s leagues, and the Philadelphia Bobbies for non-working women

1920s — Mary O’Gara took Philadelphia Bobbies to Japan to play men's teams

1928Lizzie Murphy became the first woman to play for a major league team in an exhibition game; she also became the first person, of either gender, to play for both the American League and National League in All-Star games

1928Mary Gisolo joined the nationwide American Legion Junior Baseball Program and she helped to lead Blanford Cubs to the Indiana state title

1930s — The "Bold Years" for women's baseball; women baseball players toured internationally, played junior baseball, and signed minor league contracts

1931 - Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis voids the contract of Jackie Mitchell of the Chattanooga Lookouts just days after she struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in an exhibition game.

1934 — Olympic hero Babe Didrikson pitched exhibition games for the Athletics, Cardinals, and Indians

1943–54 — The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) was started by Philip Wrigley, owner of Chicago Cubs and Wrigley's Chewing Gum

1944Dottie Wiltse pitched for the AAGPBL up until she was 6 months pregnant

1946Edith Houghton became the first woman to scout for the major leagues

1946Sophie Kurys set the stolen base record for the AAGPBL with 201 stolen bases in 203 attempts; this record continues to be unequalled in baseball history, as Rickey Henderson is second in stolen bases with 130 (1982)

1947 — The Racine Belles of the AAGPBL started the Junior Belles baseball program; 100 girls tried out and 60 were selected to play on 4 teams; the Grays, Greens, Reds, and Golds

1948 — The Junior Belles became more popular, as more girls tried out for the teams; other AAGPBL teams, such as the Lassies and the Comets, began to sponsor girls’ junior baseball teams

1948 — After 5 years of playing, the AAGBL (also known as the AAGPBL) starts throwing pitches overhand instead of underhand

1950 — Racine Belles and Junior Belles folded due to lack of money

1950sToni Stone, Connie Morgan, and Mamie “Peanuts” Johnson played on men’s professional teams in the Negro Leagues; they weren’t allowed to play in the AAGPBL because they were African American

1952George Trautman voided Eleanor Engle's minor league contract with AA Harrisburg Senators

1952 — 23 June, organized baseball banned women from the minor leagues; the ban technically is still in effect but is likely unenforceable due to anti-discrimination laws.

1955 — Bill Allington formed two women's teams called Allington's All-Stars which barnstormed the U.S. playing men's town and semi-pro teams, like the Bloomer Girls did; lasted until 1957

1969Bernice Gera became the first woman to sign a professional umpire contract

1971Gloria Jean “Jackie” Jackson tried out for Pittsfield Senators; she received an offer from the Raleigh-Durham Triangles, but the offer was revoked one day later

1974 — Girls won the right to play baseball in Little League Baseball through Title IX when Janine Cinseruli (at age 10) won her court battle in Massachusetts

1976Christine Wren umpired in Class A Northwest League (minor leagues)

1977–83Pam Postema umpires at each level of minor league baseball, beginning in the Rookie Gulf Coast League and moving up to the Triple A Pacific Coast League in 1983

1984Bob Hope founded the Sun Sox, a Class A minor league all-women's team and tried to enter the team into the Class A Florida State League; however, the league did not award Hope the franchise

1988–89 — Pam Postema was invited by baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti to umpire spring training games and the Hall of Fame game

1988American Women's Baseball Association (AWBA) founded in Chicago; first organized women's league since AAGPBL (1943–1954)

1988Julie Croteau played semi-pro baseball for the Fredericksburg Giants of the Virginia Baseball League

1989 — Following the death of Bart Giamatti, Pam Postema was released from umpiring in the minor leagues, concluding a 13-year career in the minors

1989 — Julie Croteau became the first woman to play collegiate men's varsity baseball at St. Mary's College (NCAA Division III)

1990sAmerican Women's Baseball League (AWBL; also known as American Women's Baseball, AWB) was founded by Jim Glennie in an effort to unite women's baseball teams and leagues around the country and to provide support to them

1992A League of Their Own movie about the AAGPBL was produced by Penny Marshall

1993Sal Coats became the first woman to play in the Men's Senior Baseball League World Series

1994Bob Hope formed and Coors Brewing Company sponsored the Colorado Silver Bullets women's baseball team which played men's college and minor league teams; the team existed for 4 years

1994Women's National Adult Baseball Association (WNABA) formed; 16 women's teams played in a women's world series in Phoenix in 1994

1995 — WNABA had 100 affiliated women's baseball teams in 16 states in the U.S.

1995Ila Borders became the first woman to pitch and win a complete collegiate baseball game; Ila also was the first woman to win a collegiate baseball scholarship

1998 — Ila Borders became the first woman to win a men's pro game while pitching for the Duluth Dukes independent minor league team

1997Ladies League Baseball was formed by San Diego businessperson Mike Ribant; it became the first professional women's baseball league since the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League

1998 — After beginning its second season, the Ladies League Baseball expanded to 6 teams and went nationwide, but folds shortly after "due to lack of attendance"

1999–2007Ria Cortesio umpires professional baseball, moving up to Double A

2000 — The American Women's Baseball League (AWBL) took women’s baseball team to Japan to play Team Energen, the Japanese women’s national team

2001 — The first Women's World Series (WWS) was played at the SkyDome in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; countries that participated included the United States of America, Australia, Canada, and Japan — the U.S. won the gold medal

2003 — Pawtucket Slaterettes all-girls' baseball league celebrated its 30th season of all-girls' baseball

2003 — Women's baseball became an official sport (39th) of the AAU; this marked the first time in United States history that a U.S. national organization began sanctioning and supporting women’s baseball

2003 — The American Eagles of American Women's Baseball Federation (AWBF) became the first women's baseball team to be sanctioned by USA Baseball

2004 — The first-ever Women's Baseball World Cup was played in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; the event was sanctioned by the International Baseball Association and Federation (IBAF) and was hosted by Baseball Canada

2004 — USA Baseball sanctioned the first official national women's baseball team; the team competed in the 2004 WWS (in Japan) and in the 2004 Women's World Cup of Baseball

2004John Kovach, manager of the South Bend Blue Sox Women's Baseball Club, director of the Great Lakes Women's Baseball League, and AAU Women's Baseball Youth Baseball Chair, worked out a proposal with Little League, Inc. to use the Michiana Girls’ Baseball League as a model league to develop girls’ Little League baseball programs around the country; Although Little League started a boy’s softball program in 2000 because 500 boys were playing in Little League softball leagues around the U.S., the organization has not started a girls’ baseball program despite the thousands of girls playing baseball in Little League baseball leagues across the United States.

2006Ria Cortesio umpires MLB Futures Game, Home Run Derby in Pittsburgh, PA

2007Ria Cortesio umpires MLB Spring Training in AZ, but then is released after 2007 season

2007Chicago Pioneers girls' baseball team became the first-ever U.S. Girls' Baseball National Champions after defeating the Pawtucket Slaterettes during the 2007 Women's Baseball National Championship/Girls' Baseball National Championship in Ft. Myers, Florida

2008Eri Yoshida, at 16 years old, becomes Japan's first professional female baseball player to play in a men's league by signing a professional contract with the Kobe 9 Cruise of a new Japanese independent league. In April 2010, she signed a contract with the Chico Outlaws and became the first ever to play professionally in two countries.

2009Justine Siegal became the first female coach of a men's professional baseball team.[1] In 2011, she was the first woman to throw batting practice to a MLB team, the Cleveland Indians at Spring training.[2] She also threw BP to the Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays, St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros and New York Mets.[3][4][5][6]

2010Tiffany Brooks signs a professional baseball contract with the Big Bend Cowboys of the Continental Baseball League. This makes her the first female baseball player to play in an American men's professional baseball league since Ila Borders, and the first in the 21st Century. A woman professional baseball league opens in Japan.[7]

2011 — The first ever members clubs are announced for Southern Ontario's Woman's Baseball League. Those clubs being located in London, Guelph, St Catharines and Niagara Falls Ontario, Canada. This is the first ever professional league for women, aged 18 and over, in Ontario and will start playing in 2012.[8]

International competition[edit]

Organized international competition in women's baseball began with the 2001 Women's World Series played in Toronto's Skydome. Women's World Series events were held in 2002 (St. Petersburg, Florida), in 2003 (Gold Coast, Australia), and in 2004 (Uozu-city, Japan). These Women's World Series events were organized by the American Women's Baseball Federation and the Women's Baseball Association of Japan. They paved the way for official International Baseball Federation sanctioned Women's World Cup competitions.

In 2004 five countries competed in the 2004 Women's World Cup in Edmonton, Canada: the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan and Taiwan. In 2006 seven countries competed in the 2006 Women's World Cup in Taiwan: Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Hong Kong, Japan and the United States. The United States won the Gold Medal in both events. In 2008 the Women's World Cup was played in Matsuyama, Japan, and featured eight teams from Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, South Korea, Hong Kong, India, Japan and the United States. Japan won its first Gold Medal.

Additional elite/world-class level international competitions include the Hong Kong, China, Phoenix Cup International Women's Baseball Tournament. Begun in 2008, the annual event held in Kowloon, Hong Kong, China has seen six international teams competing for gold in each of the last two years. The competing country's elite club teams (composed primarily of National Team players) in 2008 were: North Stars (North America), Far East Bloomers (Japan), Vanguard (Taiwan), Sunrise (Korea), Allies (Hong Kong), and Aussie Hearts (Australia). In 2008, Japan faced North America in the Championship Game, with Japan eventually taking Gold and the North American team earning Silver. 2009 saw the return of the Far East Bloomers, Aussie Hearts and the Allies, with new teams competing from North America (Liberty Belles), Taiwan (Kapok Flowers), and Korea (TOP). North America faced Japan again for the Championship, with the Far East Bloomers again emerging with Gold and North America with Silver. Taiwan defeated Korea for the Bronze.

Additional international women's tournaments are being developed for 2010 in Montréal, Québec, Canada and in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

The first Pan American Women's Baseball Championship (I Campeonato Panamericano del Béisbol Femenino) was played in Valencia, Venezuela from 13–20 November 2009. Teams that competed were Cuba, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic. Women's baseball was added to the Pan American Games in 2015.

Pakistan has had a national women's baseball championship annually since 2005. The 2009 championship was played from 15–17 December 2009 at Kinnaird College, Lahore, Pakistan – under the auspices of Pakistan Federation Baseball

The 2010 Women's Baseball World Cup was an international baseball competition that was held in Venezuela from 12 August – 22 August 2010

See also[edit]

There are many organizations around the world that are helping to build baseball opportunities for women. A few within the U.S. are:


External links[edit]

Lists of and links to teams and leagues can be found on these and other sites: