Today on the MLBlogs.com’s home page, the featured blog is Justine’s Baseball Journey. Justine Siegal is the first woman ever to coach 1st base on a men’s professional baseball team (The Broxton Rox of the Canadian American League).
Justine is in her 31st season of playing baseball (make no mistake, we are talking baseball – hardball style).
Justine also founded Baseball for All, a non-profit that provides meaningful instruction and opportunities in baseball, especially for girls. Justine envisions a day when girls will have the same opportunities as boys to compete in baseball at every level of play.
She served as assistant baseball coach at Springfield College in Massachusetts from 2007-2010. She has coached and played baseball on 5 continents and has served as Technical Commissioner for the International Federation of Baseball, which is the worldwide governing body for the sport of baseball. She is presently working toward a Ph.D. in Sport and Excercise Psychology at Springfield College.
Justine also founded the “WBL Sparks,” a 12-and-under baseball team, which is the first all-girl team to compete in the national “boys” tournament at Dreamspark in Cooperstown, NY in 2009, site of the baseball Hall of Fame.
ESPN aired a documentary on the tournament entitled “The Girls of Summer.” Watch the Trailer. You’ll be very impressed.
Justine dreamed of playing in the Major Leagues but she had the misfortune of being born in the 1970’s, when the only real way for a girl to play ball was to play softball. Other than working in the front office or working the concessions, participating at any level of professional baseball was extremely rare at that time.
The other girl with a dream to play baseball was Christina-Taylor Green. Her name may be familiar to you as she was the 9-year-old girl who was gunned down with Congressman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson last month. Like Justine, Christina dreamed of becoming the first woman to play major league baseball, and was a star on her Canyon Del Oro Little League team.
Christina was also interested in politics which is why her neighbor brought her to a Tucson shopping center on that fateful day to meet her local congresswoman, Gabby Giffords. It was an unfortunate case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and our prayers go out to her family. By the way, the neighbor took 3 bullets trying to protect Christina.
You may not know that Christina had baseball in her blood. Her father, John Green, is a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers and before that for the Baltimore Orioles. Her more-famous grandfather was Dallas Green, a pitcher for the Phillies in the 1960’s. After his playing days ended, Green joined the Phillies front office. In 1979, he was appointed the manager of the Phillies, replacing Danny Ozark, and dispite his tough abrasive manner, led the team to the 1980 World Series title. Dallas is now a senior advisor to Phillies General Manager, Reuben Amaro, Jr.
Dallas Green was rocked when his granddaughter was killed. “You know I’m supposed to be a tough sucker,” he said last week, “but I’m not tough when it comes to this. She embodied what’s good about kids, and what’s good about growing up in the United States. She was a really special young lady, probably older than her years.”
Dallas is probably at spring training right now with the Phillies. He never considered skipping it this year. Most likely it will be a welcome diversion while he and his wife, Sylvia, try to cope with this awful tragedy.
To honor the memory of Christina, the Canyon Del Oro Little League has created a commemorative patch which all their players will wear on their uniforms this season.
You can obtain one or more of these patches from the league
On February 21st, all of the above will come together in one place. Justine Siegel will achieve another first by becoming the first woman to pitch batting practice to a Major League baseball club when she takes the mound in Goodyear, AZ, to pitch BP to the Cleveland Indians. Two days later she will throw BP at Phoenix Municipal Stadium to the Oakland A’s. As a tribute to Christina, she will wear the commemorative patch on her uniform.
How did Justine get the opportunity to pitch to major league teams? “It’s all in the ask,” she says. She approached quite a few teams about the possibility of pitching BP at spring training, and “there were only two teams that dared to dream with me.” The Indians and the A’s are special teams indeed.
P.S. I tried to find the picture of Christina that was all over the news after the massacre, but the photographer who took the picture threatened to sue any media outlets who aired or printed it, and the picture has all but disappeared from the internet. What goes around, comes around, and he is reportedly out of business because people were so appalled at his apparent greed in a time of sadness. How’d that work for you buddy?