Archive for June 7th, 2009

Minor League Baseball: It’s For Everyone

Up to this point, the biggest story in the Can-Am League this season was Quebec’s signing of former major league pitcher Eric Gagne.  The Boston Herald, however, ran a story today on the first base coach for the Brockton Rox, Justine Siegal.

justine siegal

Yeah, HER name is Justine.  The Rox think she is the first female coach in professional baseball history (that’s actually the fun thing about independent baseball: you can claim pretty much anything and run with it until someone proves you wrong.  Then, if they do prove you wrong,  you just smile and nod and move on to the next promotion.  It’s great).

One of the big questions in the story was whether or not Siegal’s position was a legitimate one; the Rox are owned by Mike Veeck, who comes from a family that has been known to tweak the nose of the baseball establishment from time to time, just to show that it can.  Legit or not, though, it’s a nice story.  She’s out there, on the field, helping the team.

And more than that, maybe this will help open some doors and minds to opportunities for everyone in the game.  I remember about five years ago, there was a girl in Nashua who wanted to play baseball in middle school.  The coach, a well-respected member of the community, wouldn’t let her join the team because girls weren’t allowed to play with the boys beyond Little League.  Her father sought out Butch Hobson’s advice, then refused to stand up for his daughter after Butch told him the coach’s decision was the right one.

When Mackenzie Brown pitched a perfect game in a New Jersey Little League this spring, news of her achievement was tempered by the “Well, she’s gonna have to switch to softball soon” mindset:

Most of the estimated 100,000 girls who play Little League each year switch to softball by age 10, but Mackenzie’s been content to strike out the boys. She’ll have to switch next year, however, in the hopes of playing college softball.

Maybe now, a girl in the same position can say, “If Coach Siegal can coach a bunch of men, why can’t I play baseball with a bunch of boys?”

(Also, I enjoyed this caption on the photo that accompanied Steve Buckley’s column:

Justine Siegal is a major sensation as professional baseball’s first female coach, for the Brockton Rox. Here she keeps an eye on baserunner Keith Brachold during a home game Tuesday against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

Nice job, Boston Herald caption writers.  The New Hampshire Fisher Cats are the Eastern League team that plays in Manchester.  The Rox were playing the American Defenders of New Hampshire from the Can-Am League, the team formery known as the Nashua Pride.  Just for that, I’m borrowing John Wilcox’s picture for this post.)

The College World Series Is Quickly Taking Shape

Three teams finished off a two-game Super Regional sweep yesterday to advance to the 2009 College World Series.  Cal State Fullerton beat Louisville, 11-2; Arkansas stopped Florida State, 9-8; and LSU handled Rice, 5-3.  The remaining series on that side of the bracket will be decided today when Ole Miss and Virginia play at 3 PM on ESPN.

On the other side, Texas, Southern Miss, Arizona State and North Carolina took 1-0 leads in their Super Regionals.  The four games today all have staggered start times and can be seen on ESPN and ESPN2 (assuming you don’t have a two-year-old who insists on watching some combination of Cars, Meet the Robinsons, and Madagascar all day.  I’m lucky I even got to see Roger Federer take care of business in the French this morning).

North Carolina vs. East Carolina (North Carolina leads, 1-0) (12:00 PM, ESPN)

TCU vs. Texas (Texas leads, 1-0) (3:00 PM, ESPN)

Ole Miss vs. Virginia (Series tied, 1-1) (3:00 PM, ESPN)

Florida vs. Southern Miss (Southern Miss leads, 1-0) (7:00 PM, ESPN2)

Clemson vs. Arizona State (Arizona State leads, 1-0) (10:00 PM, ESPN2)

If any of these series go to a third game, they will be played tomorrow.

Also, in honor of Arkansas’s first College World Series appearance since 2004, here is Academy Award-winning actor Brian Walker from a game against Ole Miss a couple years ago:

Walker was drafted in the 29th round by the Angels in 2007.  He is hitting .310 in 21 games for Rancho Cucamonga this season.