At the fourth annual SABR/IWBC Women in Baseball Conference on September 17, 2022, a keynote panel was held with Justine Siegal, Maybelle Blair, and Sarah Domin.
Justine Siegal is the founder of Baseball for All and she was honored with the 2022 Dorothy Seymour Mills Lifetime Achievement Award. Maybelle Blair was an accomplished softball player when she joined the Peoria Redwings of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League for one season in 1948. At 95 years old, she is actively involved in fundraising and publicity efforts for AAGPBL reunions and the IWBC. She recently made a cameo and serves as a consultant on the new Amazon Prime show, A League of Their Own. Sarah Domin is a freshman at West Genesee High School in New York, where she became the first girl in school history to play for the baseball team. She is a junior co-captain of Baseball for All
- Video: Click here to watch a replay of the 2022 SABR/IWBC Women in Baseball Conference Keynote Panel (YouTube)
Here are some highlights:
On her start in professional baseball
- Blair: “I was very athletic in most sports that I ever played, but I loved baseball naturally, best of all. I grew up in Inglewood, California, and I played, played, and played and finally a scout saw me — just like in A League Of Their Own — and said, ‘Hey Maybelle, how would you like to come play professional baseball?’ I said, ‘You’re out of your mind, my mother wouldn’t let me go.” He followed me home and my mother, who wore the pants in my family, was answering and telling him ‘No, no, no, no’ all the time. And he finally said, ‘Well, Mrs. Blair, we’re going to pay her $65 a week.’ And my mother stopped right then and there. He didn’t get anything else out. She says, ‘George, go crank up the car. I’m gonna pack her suitcase and she’s on the next Santa Fe train out of here.’ And that’s how I got into it.”
On how Title IX is helping younger generations
- Domin: “I play hockey, baseball and volleyball, and I feel like a mix of Maybelle and Justine because I grew up playing baseball and I still do, but I’ve tried every sport there is and like Justine, I’m the only girl in baseball. I’m the only girl in hockey and getting to go to Baseball For All and seeing a million other girls is the coolest thing. Because of Title IX, I get so many opportunities and I don’t know where I would be without baseball and hockey and all of this.”
- Blair: “I think Title IX has opened the door for absolutely everything as far as sports goes. People realize that without sports, it would be a terrible society and I have noticed since Baseball For All, how it has grown from down in Florida, Justine’s first session, how it has branched out, and so many other people now are having their own sessions all over the United States. It’s remarkable how it has grown through that. People realize, ‘Hey, this is great. It’s good for my child.’ … This gives them a chance to learn how to get along and how to play and think on their own and be humble and learn how to win and lose. A lot of the mothers and fathers are realizing this, and they’re pushing baseball and all sports now because it is a wonderful thing.”
On why she loves baseball
- Siegal: “I’m here in baseball because the more people told me I couldn’t play because I was a girl, the more determined I was. And in that determination, I fell more in love with the game because I had to practice more, I had to always be better, I always had to prove myself. It was constant, so for me, I think if they had just let me play baseball like they would have my brother, I probably would’ve just naturally quit and gone on and tried to play soccer, become a college soccer coach. That’s my alternative life. You know, you would have never heard of me. I wouldn’t be here. But just that fight, the fight just to have the right to stand on that field, was so intense that I never really got to let it go.”
On why Title IX education is so important
- Siegal: “Title IX also went into education, so I think that’s something we should mention. The education is obviously really important. Otherwise I just think if girls don’t see it, they don’t think they can do it. That’s how most people are. I think that’s true with boys as well. It’s just that boys often have had all these opportunities to go ahead and see it. But I also think that boys and girls rise up together, so the more opportunities are for both to pursue their passions, the better off we are all together. Title IX has provided that option and then at times Title IX has (also) offered men more opportunities at colleges that were swinging one way or the other. Obviously, it’s helped us (women) greatly, but it has helped men as well.”
Transcription assistance by Mitchell Case.
For more coverage of the 2022 SABR/IWBC Women in Baseball Conference, visit SABR.org/women-in-baseball-conference.
Originally published: September 26, 2022. Last Updated: September 26, 2022.