The Sonoma Stompers of the Pacific Association just signed two females to their roster.
On Wednesday, the Sonoma Stompers made history by signing the first two female professional baseball players since the Negro Leagues. Kelsie Whitmore, 17, and Stacy Piagno, 25 signed their contracts this week, and are scheduled to start on Friday against the San Rafael Pacifics.
We’re almost used to the promotions coming out of Minor League or Independent League baseball nowadays, even with the women in baseball movement. Last month Jennie Finch became the first female to manage a professional baseball team. The Sonoma Stompers have taken it a step further, giving a couple women a shot on the diamond.
— AAGPBL Official (@AAGPBL) June 24, 2016
Theo Fightmaster, Sonoma’s general manager, told MLB.com that this isn’t just a one day event or promotion.
“This isn’t a one-day event…That’s been done a dozen times. Let’s give women a chance to be part of a team, let’s give women a chance to play against men. What will they learn? What have they not been coached because they haven’t had the same coaching as boys? I remember being really disappointed with my sister’s coaches because they coached the girls a lot different than how I was coached.”
“Both of these girls are on the roster…They’re gonna play however much they earn. They are not gonna be in the starting lineup every night so we can sell more tickets. It’s a big game on July 1 and they’ll both be in the lineup and after that we’ll see what their performance dictates.”
I’m not buying the idea that this is a strategic baseball move, but I understand that this was probably the only appropriate response to give. Fightmaster was introduced to 17 year old Kelsie Whitmore by Justine Siegal, who broke her own women in baseball barrier when she became the first female coach hired by an MLB team, the Athletics. He then flew out to watch Whitmore play.
“After spending five minutes with Kelsie and shaking her hand, watching her throw and watching her be around with the guys, I was really comfortable…”
The Stompers GM then spotted Stacy Piagno at a women’s national team tryout at the USA Baseball facilities in Cary, NC. The 25 year old righty hurler has been with USA Baseball since at least 2012. Can’t find any video of her on the mound.
According to the Sonoma Stompers both players will start on Friday. Piagno will start on the mound, and Kelsie Whitmore will start in the outfield. Now I’m all for women’s baseball. The USA Women’s National Team has given the sport some spotlight in the last couple years. I don’t see why there aren’t more women’s baseball leagues. I’d bet a good chunk of softball players would love to give baseball a try. I’m not, however, a fan of stunts like these. I don’t see a reason to lie and act like you just signed two women to your team because you think they have talent to compete with the men. Outside of maybe a rare female knuckleballer, women will never be able to compete on a baseball field with men, and there’s nothing wrong or sexist about it. Men are genetically bigger, faster, and stronger than women. If the Stompers were looking to improve their roster, they wouldn’t be scouting a 17 year old female, when there are so so many 22-25 year olds that were just released from Minor League ball.
Just call it what it is, a promotion, even if it is genuinely rooted in support of women’s baseball. It seems to me that this facade is just downplaying women’s ACTUAL ability to play the game of baseball.