In the minds of many, baseball is branded as a sport for men, and softball is reserved for women.
While this is often described as plainly as an unjust prejudice, the gender representation in these two sports backs this up.
From the youngest age, baseball is mostly played by boys and softball by girls.
Despite plenty of similarities between the two sports, it’s rare to see girls playing baseball and vice-versa.
So, can girls play baseball?
Many girls have proven over and over that they more than belong on the baseball field.
However, the lack of opportunities is often discouraging and they usually continue their sports careers as softball players.
Softball is an extremely challenging sport on its own and demands superior athletic ability and skill to succeed.
Watching some of the best female softball players, it’s hard to imagine that they wouldn’t have a similar success playing baseball.
Can Girls Play Baseball?
When discussing can girls play baseball, the main argument of those who oppose it is that women are weaker and athletically inferior when compared to men.
While this is a valid point to some extent, things are not that simple.
Unlike some other sports such as football, baseball is about much more than just strength.
More than raw strength, success in baseball requires other skills like solid coordination, timing, technique, knowledge of the game, and strategy.
Being strong is a plus for batters but bat control and speed are more important.
More than being able to hurl fastballs at breakneck speed, pitchers must master the technique of the throw.
Plenty of baseball players manage to overcome the lack of strength or size with savvy and skill.
Besides all this, a lot of women demonstrate fantastic athletic ability and would easily be more than a match for a lot of men.
Can a Girl Play in the MLB?
In theory, there’s nothing stopping a girl from playing in the Major Baseball League.
Although it wasn’t always the case, the current MLB rule book has no rules prohibiting women from being a part of the league, either as players or in any other role.
However, while some women managed to play baseball professionally, it is yet to happen in the MLB.
The examples of women playing alongside men of far have mostly happened in the independent leagues, overseas, or during batting practices.
The main reason for this is that front offices simply don’t believe that women are good enough.
No matter how good some of the young female players are, they’re not on the MLB teams’ radar and are not scouted at all.
At a collegiate level, the situation is slowly improving and there were six girls on college teams last season.
Is there a Women’s Baseball League Today?
Right now, there’s no professional female baseball league in the US. Most of the opportunities for the ladies are at amateur and youth levels.
Although baseball is often called the most American of all sports, some other countries are ahead of the United States on this matter.
Japan, Canada, and Australia all have well-organized and supported women’s baseball leagues.
Organized women’s baseball is also played in Cuba, Taiwan, Hong Kong, France, South Korea, and several other countries.
There have been several attempts to establish a women’s national baseball league in the US.
The most famous and long-lasting was the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League which existed from 1943 to 1954.
Created during World War II as numerous male players were drafted into the Army, the league involved 10 teams with more than 600 women playing.
It was a predecessor for every female professional sports league in the US.
Famous Female Baseball Players
Over the years, several women have proven that, when given a chance, they can play and be successful at baseball, even when playing against men.
In the first half of the 20th century, there were several all-girl teams who traveled the county and played against men,
One of those teams, the Boston Bloomer Girls, famously won 28 games in 26 days playing against men’s semi-pro and minor league teams.
One of the first women to receive a minor league contract was Jackie Mitchell.
On her debut, at an exhibition game against the Yankees, she famously struck out two all-timers – Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
More recent examples include Ila Borders who was the first female pitcher to start in a men’s professional game.
She played in the minors from 1997 to 2000. Eri Yoshida became the first Japanese female player to play professionally in the men’s league.
Why do Most Girls Play Softball Instead of Baseball?
The cultural norm dictating that boys should play baseball and girls should play softball is the main contributing factor to the fact that most girls are involved in softball.
While a lot of women can excel in baseball, the common wisdom is that smaller fields and slightly different rules of softball are more suitable for women.
In reality, girls wanting to play baseball are faced with a significant lack of opportunities.
Over 100,000 girls are involved in youth baseball at some point.
However, only an extremely small percentage continue with the sport through high school and beyond. Most of them transfer to softball or simply quit.
This has a lot to do with the fact that most high schools and colleges don’t have a female baseball program, nor do they hold tryouts for girls interested in baseball.
As they grow older, girls find opportunities to play baseball even more scarce.
There’s no doubt that girls love baseball. A study conducted by the MLB reviled that around 45% of baseball fans are women.
Unfortunately, the widely accepted bias against women playing baseball often keeps them from being more involved on the field.
There are plenty of girls who love the sport and are rather good at it.
However, they have to overcome many institutional and cultural obstacles to be able to play their favorite game.
Over the years, baseball has become a “boys club” where girls often don’t feel welcomed.
While things are starting to change a bit, there’s still plenty of work to be done.