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The Role of Women In Baseball

In Dan's great thread yesterday, I noticed a comment by stm72, which basically called attention to an article written about Justine Siegal; the first woman to throw batting practice in a Major League Spring Camp. Interestingly enough, she will be throwing to the A's later this week.

Siegal was the first woman to coach a men's professional baseball team; she was employed as the first base coach of the Brockton Rox in 2008. According to Baseball Prospectus, who did an interview with Siegal in 2009 (non-insider content), she was let go for "financial reasons", but the article definitely implied some sort of gender bias. Siegal has also coached baseball at Springfield College; the only woman at the college level at the time.

With the unusually high numbers of female bloggers on this site, I thought it would be interesting to see how both genders feel about women in baseball and if you think there will ever be an open role for a woman at the MLB level in the future. Do you see women in a coaching role at this level? Umpires? Broadcasters/Color? Managers/GM's? And finally, will there ever be a female baseball player who plays for a Major League club?

Let's discuss further, after the jump.

If we're going to talk about mixed-gender in baseball, I have seen baseball writing/news coverage come a long, long way in a very short time. Two of the current A's major contributors are female, and while I'm sure they fight their battles along the way, I think they fit seamlessly into the overall baseball organization. I don't think of Jane Lee or Susan Slusser being inherently female when they are delivering A's news; nor do I consider my own gender when I'm writing about the A's. Baseball is baseball, and when it comes to reporting about a team, or holding a deep baseball conversation, I find gender to be largely irrelevant. 99% of the women on AN could talk circles around the average casual male A's fan in a baseball conversation, and you all probably do.

Maybe the female presence in sportswriting seems normal to us because of our affiliation with the A's, who clearly have female representation. Maybe we're just all progressive in our own right. But how would you view a woman in the highest position of the front office? Or as a coach on the field? And of course, as an MLB player?

Kim Ng, one of only three women to ever hold the title of assistant general manager, may be the first legitimate candidate for a MLB General Manager position. Ila Borders is a professional ballplayer. But MLB remains almost 100% male-dominated.

When asked by BP if she thinks that a woman will ever play in the Major Leagues, Siegal replied:

JS: I think it would be a pitcher, possibly a knuckleball pitcher, and preferably left-handed. For one thing, I think it's just more likely from a physiological standpoint. I'm not sure that if Serena Williams would have played baseball, just how fast she'd be able to throw a baseball, but we know that, unless you're a lefty, you better be throwing high 80s to even be considered. A knuckleball makes for more options regarding the shape of the pitcher, what the pitcher looks like.

I absolutely agree that if a woman were ever to break into the big leagues, it would be in a pitching role. Do I think it will happen?

I honestly don't know.

What are your thoughts? How do you feel about the role of women in various roles in baseball? Is there any position you feel should be held exclusively by a man? Are there any potential issues that would need to be dealt with for a successful integration? Do you think women will eventually break into the game? If so, when?