Mills: Shining a light on women’s baseball

From SABR member Dorothy Seymour Mills on September 8, 2012:

The media paid little attention when, right after the close of the Olympics, the Women’s World Cup opened its semi-annual tournament in Edmonton, Ontario, Canada. No, I’m not talking about soccer. Not softball, either. These young women play baseball. And the media just about ignored their exciting tournament.

The Women’s World Cup, sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation in Lausanne, Switzerland, and played biennially, features international baseball with a high level of play, according to Ron Hayter, chairman of the organizing committee. The 2010 tournament in Venezuela “was baseball at its best” but this year in Edmonton spectators were especially impressed with “the skill level of the participants” and “the excitement of play.” The competition featured teams from Cuba, Venezuela, Canada, Chinese Taipei, the Netherlands, Australia, Japan, and the U.S.A. 

Most Americans have never heard of this tournament because media coverage is just about non-existent. Certainly, no sports department in the U.S. seems to care that our American women not only play the national game in leagues and on elite teams, they also take part in national and international play.


The national teams representing the countries in this tournament are skilled players. The Women’s World Cup is “currently the premier elite baseball competition for women,” states the American Women’s Baseball Federation, and “only national country teams selected by their respective governing bodies are eligible to compete.”  That makes them special indeed. It’s too bad the American media refuses to recognize how special they are.

Perhaps sports reporters believe women couldn’t possibly be good players. Do women really know baseball? Well, they should; they’ve been playing it since the 1860s. Most fans don’t realize that a few players were so skilled by the time the 1930s rolled around that male managers of minor-league clubs signed them to minor-league contracts. Why didn’t they play? Because each time, before a woman could play, her contract was voided by the baseball commissioner, merely because she was a woman! In those days it was legal to discriminate against women for being born female.

Read the full article here:

Related link: To learn more about women in baseball, sign up for announcements from SABR’s Women in Baseball Research Committee

Originally published: September 19, 2012. Last Updated: September 19, 2012.