Opinion: Women ought be included in America’s pastime

We all have heard the story. It was April 15, 1947, in Brooklyn. Jackie Robinson stepped out of the dugout at Ebbets Field, took first base and broke the color barrier of baseball.

Baseball has always called itself the great equalizer — this became more true after Robinson broke the color barrier. This was a massive step toward equality for the nation and for baseball, but as we see in other national issues, women are still excluded from many aspects of both the national and baseball conversations. This board is calling for the inclusion of women in baseball both as a general sport and as a professional career.

Even in the modern era of baseball, women have played professionally. Dorothy “Dottie” Kamenshek played professional baseball during the 1940s and 1950s, even receiving praise from professional male players for her adept ability to play first base.

This led us to ask: why are women not playing baseball today?

Despite many talented female baseball players, like Melissa Mayeux who is currently on the MLB international registration list, female baseball players are few in number. This stems from young, talented athletes being encouraged to attend youth training camps that essentially correspond with their gender — boys to baseball camps, girls to softball. While professional softball does exist, it is nowhere near the capacity of pro baseball, which limits the future of extremely talented players.

Even at UNC baseball’s own Elite Prospect’s program the website states the camps is “open to any and all entrants. (Limited only by number, age, and grade level and gender.)” UNC ought not to discourage women from baseball, and it certainly should not have policy barring women from baseball camp.

We are not calling for a relaxation of standards within baseball camps and teams — we acknowledge that there are physical differences between men and women — we are calling for increased opportunities.

As any lover of baseball will know, the strongest and fastest player is not always the best. The hardest thrower is not always the best pitcher, and the hardest hitter is not always the best offensive player. Some of the greatest players could not consistently hit home runs, but still scored consistently.

There is no harm in giving more people more opportunities to pursue their passions. No gender should be systematically discouraged from doing anything, and baseball is not an exception. This editorial board looks forward to watching the first woman step out of the dugout, take her position and shatter the notion that baseball is a “man’s sport.”

Thanks for reading.

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