Mo'Ne, Mo'Ne, we've come a long way!
Watching 13-year-old Mo'Ne Davis hurl 70-mph fastballs at the Little League World Series makes me think that a day is coming when women will become professional ballplayers.
I've thought of that possibility often since I was denied entrance to Little League (well, T-Ball) more than 40 years ago.
"Girls don't play baseball," I remember the Park District registrants saying. "Girls play tennis."
Most people...my friends' parents, my friends....thought I was crazy to want to play baseball.
But after Title IX, the River Forest Park District was forced to implement change. And sooner, rather than later...they had their first girls state softball championship...in 1980.
Fast forward 34 years...to Mo'Ne Davis. She's captivated the nation since arriving a week ago Friday, after becoming the first girl to throw a shutout in the Little League World Series, She was the sixth girl ever to get a hit in World Series history.
Most importantly, she's first Little Leaguer of either gender to land on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Meet the future of baseball, everyone.
It looks like there's more coming. According to Baseball for All, an advocacy group for girls playing baseball, approximately 150,000 girls are playing youth baseball.
If you tell a girl she cant play baseball what else will she believe she can’t do?”
Justine Siegal, Founder of Baseball For All
But only 1,000 continue on to play for their high school team.
Some say it's a matter of mechanics. Rich Sutcliffe, the great Chicago Cubs pitcher and San Diego Padres broadcaster, explained to me that "It's great in Little League. I'd be all for girls in Major League Baseball, but somewhere around the teen years, the boys' arms start getting stronger."
However, the Women's Sports Foundation disputes this. Baseball, they say, is not an “absolute strength” sport:
'Baseball involves skills that are a combination of timing, coordination, strength, knowledge of the game, strategies, control and savvy, to say nothing of the importance of competitiveness and desire'
Women's Sports Foundation
Strength, they say, may be a factor in pitching and hitting, timing and coordination can produce comparable throwing and bat speed.
Bat speed and bat control are more important than absolute strength. There are plenty of examples in baseball of the smaller but skilled player who overcomes disadvantages of foot speed, size or strength to be an exceptional player.
Thank you, Tim 'Rock' Raines. You were always my example of a 'mighty mite.'
And I agree with thus wholeheartedly...if girls had opportunities to play baseball along side other girls, through youth baseball, high school, and college, then the sport of baseball would grow.
That's why I'm predicting Mo'Ne will continue her journey....to Major League Baseball.