From Wayne Graczyk at the Japan Times on May 2, 2015, with mention of SABR member Perry Barber:
Last month’s hiring of Sarah Thomas as a National Football League official brings to mind the question of why there has never been a female umpire in the major leagues or Japanese professional baseball.
The National Basketball Association welcomed two women, Violet Palmer and Dee Kantner, as referees in 1997, a full 18 years ago, so when will the MLB or NPB make news by adding a lady to its umpiring roster?
It was in 1989 when Perry Lee Barber, an aspiring umpire, was introduced to Japanese baseball by Kazuo Sayama, a historian of the game. Barber worked two Orix Braves preseason games in the Kansai area; one behind the plate and one at second base.
Braves first baseman Greg “Boomer” Wells played in the games and praised Barber’s performance, saying at the time, “She did a good job. I saw no problems out there.”
Now, 26 years later, Barber has worked thousands of games at various levels in many countries but is disappointed the gender barrier has not been broken on the umpiring staffs of the top leagues in Japan or North America.
Originally published: May 6, 2015. Last Updated: May 6, 2015.