The great thing about baseball, is that everyone has a story.  I came across a good one recently, and I decided to invite her to appear on PawSox Insider, our weekly radio show that airs on 920 WHJJ, in Providence, Saturdays at 2:00 p.m.  Justine Siegal is a pioneer of sorts, having pitched batting practice to Major League teams this Spring in Florida.  Justine said it wasn’t easy getting on the field.  “I contacted all the Major League General Managers by e-mail and they all said ‘no’, well basically they all ignored me.”  Siegal din’t take the response, or lack thereof, personally.  “I decided to go to the Winter meetings and try to get a job in person.  That’s when I got a response.”  A couple of men were interested right away.  “Joe Maddon (Tampa manager) and Billy Bean (Oakland General Manager) were immediately supportive of the idea.”

     Justine says the feedback has been very good.  “It’s batting practice and my job is to throw strikes, firm strikes.  Velocity isn’t that important.  When I was in my 20’s, I threw in the mid 70’s.  Now (age 36) I just think about accuracy and durability.  I work out with a trainer 6 days a week.  I’m strong and ready.  I can do it.”  She adds that it would be great if this were more than just a novelty.   “It would be fun to throw batting practice every day.”

     Baseball is a male-dominated world.  Ordinarily, no one pays any attention to who is throwing batting practice, unless Justine is on the mound.  “The guys from both teams kind of gather around the cage.  They want to see if I can really do it.”  Justines’ first shot came against Cleveland, the team she rooted for as a child.  “My first pitch, I was really nervous.  My hands were sweaty, my heart was really beating fast.  My first pitch was a strike.  After that I settled in.  By my final round, I had just decided to have fun.”

     Justine has faced obstacles, playing baseball.  She had coaches who wanted her on the team and others that didn’t.  “I didn’t really care.   I just dug in my heels because I love baseball.  It’s the greatest game in the world.  I never wanted to play softball.”  Her journey has inspired her to begin an organization called “Baseball for All”. “I wanted to give other girls a chance to play, coach, or umpire baseball.  Anything to get the girls out of the seats and onto the field.”

     Siegal has coached baseball at Springfield College, where she is pursuing a PhD.  She has also coached professionally, with the Brockton Rox.  She is the first woman ever to coach first base for a professional team.  Although I have absoultely no authority to do so, I promised her I’d speak to manager, Arnie Beyeler and ask if she could throw battting practice to the PawSox some time this season.  She said she’d love to.  She summed up her life in baseball quite simply.  “Female athletes just want to be respected.”   


One comment

  1. gojohn

    As a dad of two young daughters who like baseball, i say this is great and I hope she gets to throw BP to the PawSox

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