Sara Jacobs, 16, has been on the Rainier District Little League All Star Team since she was ten. She is also the youngest player in the Washington Women’s Baseball League and is a starting pitcher with the Washington Stars which placed fifth in national competition in 2005. In addition she also plays on Garfield softball team and has won the Paul Robeson Scholar-Athlete award seven times.
WOMEN IN BASEBALL
While the Washington Women’s Baseball Association is part of a new grass-roots era of women’s baseball, women have been playing the game for over 125 years.
In 1931, a 17-year-old girl named Jackie Mitchell signed a contract to pitch for the Chattanooga Lookouts and drew a crowd of 4,000 when she pitched in an exhibition game against the New York Yankees. Mitchell entered the game in the first inning and fanned Babe Ruth on four pitches before whiffing Lou Gehrig on just three tosses. If Mitchell’s appearance was merely a publicity stunt, the joke was lost on Ruth, who kicked the dirt, cursed the home plate and heaved his bat before storming back to the Yanks dugout. The crowd loved it, however, and gave Mitchell a standing ovation that lasted several minutes. She was pulled after walking another Hall of Famer, Tony Lazzeri, and never pitched in a pro game again.
While the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was still going in 1952, a shortstop named Eleanor Engle signed a contract with the Harrisburg Senators of Pennsylvania. Minor league president George Trautmann voided the contract two days after Engle signed it, calling the transaction a “travesty.” Later that same year, organized baseball formally banned women, a ban that remains in place over 50 years later.
– Excerpt from “A History of Women’s Baseball” by Bruce Baskin, taken from the website of the Washington Women’s Baseball Association (www.wwbabaseball.com)
Coach Morris Byrd, 47
I remember Sara played on my oldest son’s first baseball team when they were all 4 and 5 year olds, and she’s been a baseball player all her life. She’s always been a die-hard, plays with the boys, gets down and dirty with the boys, cuts, scratches, bruises with the boys and she’s always performed well. She’s a really good kid. She’s a smart kid. She’s about as humble as you can get considering she’s been playing with the guys. I mean the whole guy attitude, the boy’s locker room that kind crap – Sara, she’s fit in.”
Sara Jacobs, 16
After awhile I don’t think about being the only girl or anything, its just sort of playing.
The team is all boys. I’m the only girl on it. Sometimes it’s hard when there are no other girls but I get along well enough with them.
I’m playing (softball) this year at school and I like it because I like the people and I’m like friends with them and everything but I like the game of baseball more so that’s why I’m sticking with it.
I definitely do a lot of girl things. I still spend a lot of time with my friends. During baseball season I don’t spend as much time because I’ve got so much going on. But whenever I have free time, I’m still a female.”
Sara’s advice to young girls who want to play baseball:
Even if it seems hard they should still go for it because it’s definitely worth it. For girls it’s sometimes harder, because especially at this age the guys are starting to get so much bigger and stronger. But as long as you’re consistent then you’ll do fine.”