Regular readers of DirtDog Baseball may remember my article from just a year ago on Japanese knuckleballer Eri Yoshida who was the first woman to play professional baseball in the United States.
It must be a sure sign of Spring, because this year the story is about Justine Siegal of Springfield, Mass. who became the first woman to pitch batting practice in MLB Spring Training camp today. Siegal threw to the Cleveland Indians at their Cactus Leage facility in Goodyear, Arizona and earned plenty of kudos all around from both managers and players.
A Cleveland native and life-long fan of the Indians, Siegal is accustomed to breaking through the gender barrier in baseball, having previously coached at both college and professional levels: She was the first woman first base coach in professional baseball with the Brockton Rox (Independent League) in 2009. She also was the only woman college baseball coach in the country when Assistant Coach at Springfield College from 2007-10.
Siegal attended the recent offseason General Manager’s meetings and asked for a chance to throw in Spring Training. Indians GM Chris Antonetti gave her the opportunity of a lifetime. A right-handed hurler at 36 years old, she has plenty of heat for batting practice and uses a curveball out-pitch when it counts.
The next MLB team to face Siegal will be the Oakland Athletics on this coming Wednesday. Good luck to ’em, Nuf Ced!