My daughters are all right-handed. Which is tough because everyone knows the real money in the major leagues can be had by lefties. Left-handed pitchers are rare, leading to big contracts and long careers.
Even more rare is the sight of a female college baseball player.
Not softball. Baseball.
Which is why it’s so cool to see Sarah Hudek pitching for the Bossier Parish Community College baseball team, where she recently recorded her first collegiate win as a left-handed reliever for the Louisiana school.
Since their dad is a huge baseball fan, my girls have grown up watching a lot of baseball. A lot of sports in general, actually. I have tried to balance the genders when I can, mixing some women’s college basketball along with the men’s, spending as much time watching the women’s hockey and soccer games as the men’s variety when the Olympics roll around.
Baseball, though, is decidedly one-sided when it comes to gender. Perhaps because of the women’s offerings in the other sports, my girls have taken notice of this fact. “Why aren’t there female baseball players?” they’ve asked on more than one occasion. “Can women be umpires? Can they be coaches?”
I’ve never pressed them on why they’re asking, whether they’re thinking about the possible options available to them in the sport when they’re older, or if they just want to see someone like them playing the game so they can have a female favorite player instead of a man.
I feel inadequate when I answer them, “Well, the women play softball,” without a good enough reason for the disparity.
I do try to point out whenever there’s a female broadcaster on television or PA announcer at a ballpark, but again, it doesn’t seem to satisfy my daughters’ desire to see a player on the field.
That’s why when I came across some video online following Hudek’s win I called my daughters over to see.
We watched together as Hudek struck out one batter looking, another swinging. (Both were male, for what that’s worth.) She also induced an inning-ending flyout to right field as part of her two-plus innings performance.
I’d like to think my daughters will grow up and see women in baseball, at the very least at the collegiate level, become more the norm than the exception, but I have my doubts. It’s been more than twenty years since I remember watching Ila Borders make news by becoming the first female to pitch in a college baseball game, and there hasn’t been a ton of progress since then.
I’d also like to think my daughters might grow up to be some of those ground-breaking female baseball players, but they have another strike against them: Sarah Hudek’s father was a pitcher in the major leagues. My daughters don’t quite have the same talent in their gene pool.
You might also think it’s a problem my girls haven’t actually played on a baseball team yet, and that they’re only mildly interested in doing so.
I won’t force them, but I feel like what you see as a negative I take as a positive. After all, they haven’t developed those bad right-handed habits yet. They can at least learn to hit left-handed.
As time goes on, though, they might even want to learn how to throw with their left hand.
Just like Sarah Hudek.