Make Women’s Baseball Go Pro

Inspired by the movie A League of Their Own and noticing the inequality of women’s sports, I provide my opinion as to what men’s sports, including the MLB, should do to allow women’s sports be more mainstream.

A women’s baseball team in 1944, one year after the league started

A women’s baseball team in 1944, one year after the league started

Maddox Greenberg, Staff Writer

As I was thinking of what to write for my upcoming story, I went to my fifth period class, Econ Financial Literacy Honors in Mrs. Miklos’ class.  She had on her board something that read ‘Primetime Sports’ or something.  It was a voting for Pinellas County Player of the Week, and on the list was someone from East Lake.  On the side, I noticed a list of other sports.  I started reading down the list and I noticed something odd.  Going down the list, “Boys Soccer, Football, Girls Soccer, Softball.”

‘Wait!’ I thought to myself.  I started to read into it.  This notion kept eating me up inside.  I went home and immediately went onto the internet.  I was doing research to find the answer I so desperately wanted to know: is there any women’s pro baseball?

I found my answer: no.  There is no longer any women’s pro baseball.  ‘Well why?’ I thought.  We have women’s pro football (WFA), women’s pro basketball (WNBA), women’s pro hockey (PHF), and women’s pro soccer (NWSL).  Why is there no women’s pro baseball?  We are in the 21st century, a century where it is said that women are equal to men.  Well, are they?

 

A section in the Baseball Hall of Fame commemorating the AAGPBL, the first women’s baseball league.

 

 

 

A little history lesson.  In 1943, Philip K. Wrigley, Wesley “Branch” Rickey, and Paul V. Harper created the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, a.k.a. the AAGPBL (catchy right?)  You’ve may have seen 1992’s A League of Their Own, so you surely do know why these three men, one a chewing gum manufacturer and an executive in the MLB and one a former baseball player, decided to open a women’s pro sport league.  But for those who don’t, here is why in one word: war.  While most men and baseball players went to war, there was a short supply of ball players.  These three men, worried about the future of the league because of a temporary cease and restriction of travel due to gas shortage, did the daring move of having women’s baseball.  After the war ended and ball players like Ted Williams, Stan Musial, and Joe DiMaggio returned to playing sports and men went back to the workforce and women retired back to the kitchen, the AAGPBL continued for…nine more years!  The league unfortunately folded with only five active teams and that was that.

Fast forward to 2004, the National Pro Fastpitch, the first women’s pro softball league, was born. The season lasted for 17 years.  However, due to the pandemic, it folded.  There is good news, though.  On October 14th of this year, it was announced that the Women’s Professional Fastpitch will play next year in June with six to eight teams.

I love to hear this.  I am not much of a fan of softball, and I don’t really pay attention to women’s sports even though I should.  But even though the WPF is about to start, I still got to question the MLB on what the duck, man!

We have girls’ softball in high school and women’s softball in college.  Millions of girls play softball ages 4 and up.  Why hasn’t this been a thing yet?  Why haven’t we’ve seen women’s baseball in the ‘60’s, ‘70’s, ‘80’s, ‘90’s, 2000’s, 2010’s, and the 2020’s?  The game of baseball is America’s pastime, but the MLB shouldn’t leave things in the past.  Inductees like Faye Dancer and Dorothy “Dottie Key” Ferguson would want to see women’s baseball achieve great lengths.

I’ve said this about women’s football: inspire the next generation.  Everyone keeps bringing up the next generation.  Instead of just saying it, do it.  MLB should start a women’s baseball league in towns like Cooperstown and Rockford, home of four-time AAGPBL’s Rockford Peaches.  ESPN should broadcast the WPF.

Women are already playing in the same sports men do, but still get paid little, in what is a travesty.  Women’s basketball got 570,000 views of Game 3 of the Finals matchup between the Seattle Storm and the Las Vegas Aces, up 34% compared to the 2019 WNBA Finals.  Pro basketball players like Trae Young, LeBron James, and the late Kobe Bryant have advocated for women’s basketball, but women’s basketball players get paid, on average, $120,648 compared to NBA player’s average of $7.5 million.  Women’s soccer suffers the same thing.  Having 400,000 viewers but only making $22,000.  Yet, NWSL players face sexism and abuse all the time.  Yet, people want to see the USWNT than the USMNT play.  Women’s hockey players make $15,000 compared to NHL’s $3.32 million, even though women’s hockey gets mostly views on Twitch and it gets 200,000 views on average broadcast.

This is clearly a big problem.  Even though the rules are a bit different in some women’s sports compared to their respective men’s sports, that doesn’t mean women athletes should be paid a huge fraction of what the average male athletes make.  Women’s baseball could change that.  The MLB could change that.  We could do so much more!  MLB, why not have women’s baseball in 2021?  NFL, why not show or advertise women’s football?  NBA, why not help the WNBA get more notoriety and why not NBA players protest uncontrollable high wages so WNBA players could be paid more?  NHL, advocate for women’s hockey.  Why not show women’s hockey on the NHL Network?  MLS and USMNT, why not protest until every single NWSL player gets equal pay as you?  ESPN, why not broadcast more women’s sports?  Congress, pass a bill to increase the salary for women’s sports.  You could do so much more.  We could all do so much more.  You could argue no one wants to watch women’s sports.  Well, maybe you don’t want to, but women and little girls and some men do.  NBA players do.  Celebrities do.  So, why not?!  This is 2021.  Let’s show the world who America is when it comes to sports.  We could start a movement that could spread to other countries and their leagues like wildfire.  Let’s make change!  Let little girls aspiring to play pro baseball like the boys see themselves playing a league for them. A—league of their own.

 

Do you agree with me?  Do you think women athletes, and women in general, have been underpaid and discriminated too long in a world like 2021, where these things should’ve been resolved a long time ago?  We are not a third-world country.  Do you want to see women’s baseball and hockey and basketball and football?  Do you want to see the WMLB?