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.)

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