Girls and Baseball
While helping his young daughter overcome her doubts about playing America's beloved pastime, a Mount Kisco dad learned she was not alone in her concerns
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By Jason Klein
My daughter is surrounded by boys.
This scenario could make some dads uncomfortable.
Instead, it’s just another baseball Saturday in May. We’re at the Leonard Park fields in Mount Kisco, and I’m coaching my eight-year-old daughter’s little league team. She’s the only girl on the roster.
Aside from her hot pink batting helmet, she’s really no different than any other player on the team. She’s just as fast, strong, and eager to learn as anyone else.
There are a handful of other girls scattered throughout the league, but on our team, my daughter plays alongside nine boys every weekend. It’s her choice.
Our town doesn’t offer a little league softball program. She could play in the Katonah-Lewisboro Bedford Softball league if she wanted to, but for now, she prefers baseball. It’s a difficult decision for some young girls to make.
A few years back, my older daughter questioned her place in the game. Before signing up to play in the MKLL, she asked me if baseball was a sport that girls could play, too. I did my best to reassure her but could tell she still had some doubts.
Like a resourceful, modern-day #GirlDad, I decided to tweet about it. I asked Twitter to “show my daughter she’s not alone.” I asked my fellow tweeters to “show her how many people agree with me,” that baseball is a sport for girls, too. The response was overwhelming.
The post garnered 5.1 million impressions and collected over 80,000 combined likes and retweets, including support from Major League Baseball, Little League International, USA Women’s Baseball, and Baseball For All, an organization that advocates for girls in the game. The Washington Post even picked up on the story and wrote a feature about us.
After the tweet went viral, thousands of parents reached out to me to encourage my daughter and to share their personal stories with me. The humbling experience gave me a better understanding of just how many young female ballplayers out there have similar doubts.
My older daughter eventually decided to sign up for MKLL. She played three seasons before moving on to try other activities. Now, my younger daughter is giving baseball a shot.
Like a lot of girls, she might decide to switch to softball one day or stop playing altogether. However, if she wants to stick with baseball, she’ll have our full support and plenty of role models to look up to.
Eight years ago, Mo’ne Davis, a 13-year-old girl from Philadelphia, dominated the boys during the Little League World Series. She became the first girl to pitch a winning LLWS game. Her efforts landed her on the cover of Sports Illustrated and helped her capture the nation’s heart.
Today, women are also taking on high-ranking baseball positions, paving the way for young girls to have an equal opportunity in all aspects of the game. Kim Ng is currently serving as the General Manager of the Miami Marlins, Rachel Balkovec is managing the Tampa Tarpons, a New York Yankees affiliate, and Elizabeth Benn is the director of Major League Operations for the New York Mets.
In April 2022, Alyssa Nakken became the first woman to coach on the field in an MLB game when she took over as the First-Base coach for the San Francisco Giants. Also, after becoming one of the first female players to sign with an MLB-affiliated team, Kelsie Whitmore became the first woman to start a game in Atlantic League history when she trotted out to left field for the Staten Island FerryHawks.
Inclusion and equality in the game have even influenced how brands are marketing their baseball-related products. Last month, Frito-Lay introduced Cracker Jill, a female version of its popular ballpark treat, Cracker Jack. As part of the campaign, they released a 90-second “girl power” ad featuring female athletes breaking barriers. They even reworked “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” to include the inspirational new verse “buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jill, no one can stop you if you have the will.”
When she’s ready, my daughter will make the decision that’s right for her. For now, she plays ball with a group of supportive boys in front of equally receptive parents. She gives out just as many high fives as she receives. The boys cheer for her when she’s at bat and joke around with her during downtime in the dugout.
To them, she’s not just a girl, she’s a teammate.
We’ve only played a few games so far, but she’s already looking forward to playing again next season. Perhaps we’ll have a few more girls on our team then.
If not, my daughter will stay surrounded by boys — a scenario that could make some dads uncomfortable.
For me, it would be just another baseball Saturday. My daughter would be doing what makes her happy and I’d be proud.
Jason Klein coaches youth baseball in Mount Kisco and is an advocate for girls getting a fair opportunity in the game. He is also the author of YES PEPPER, an empowering new book for girls who play baseball. Follow Jason on Twitter @ByJasonKlein and @YesPepperBook. Pre-order your copy of YES PEPPER by clicking here.
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