It happened last week, while everyone was distracted by spring break, the Easter holidays and tax day. It happened while everyone was still buzzing about the Masters and the fallout of March Madness, as well as the Major League Baseball season that just got underway. But even if it went unnoticed by the mainstream media, what happened recently at MLB Youth Academy in Los Angeles could open the door to new sports events, provided savvy planners know how to harness the momentum.
USA Baseball and MLB held their first-ever girls' tournament. The event, called the Trailblazer Series, took place between April 13 and 15.
According to an article in Inside The Games, women’s baseball has been growing steadily in popularity, despite the fact that softball has been the sport into which most girls were traditionally funneled.
In the Trailblazer tournament, more than 100 players from the US and Canada competed in under-16 and under-12 teams. Several stars from past World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Women's Baseball World Cups were present to serve as coaches. Justine Siegal, the chair of the WBSC Women's Baseball Commission, worked alongside American Olympic softball champion Jennie Finch.
The event was held in conjunction with Jackie Robinson Day in the Los Angeles area. And according to officials, it dovetailed with that theme.
"The establishment of the Trailblazer Series marks an exciting next chapter in the history of women's baseball," said Paul Seiler, executive director and chief executive of USA Baseball and a WBSC Executive Board member.
Accordingly, the teams were named after notable alumnae from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which lasted from 1943 to 1954 and was profiled to great effect in “A League of Their Own.” Alumni team namesakes included Dottie Green, Joanne Winter, Faye Dancer, Doris “Sammye” Sams, Dorothy “Dottie” Kamenshek, Pepper Paire, Shirley Burkovich and Maybelle Blair.
MLB leader Robert Manfred added: "MLB and USA Baseball have listened to the growing demand for girls and women's baseball by launching this unprecedented event.”
Sports planners should know there is a rising number of girls taking up baseball. Many are already playing on high school teams at both the varsity and junior varsity level. Others are playing municipal ball at around the nation and today, one in seven Little Leagues is a girl. (In fact, it was a landmark court case as recently as 1974 that cleared the way for girls to play in Little League Baseball.) At the highest level, USA Baseball fields a Women’s National Team.
Seizing hold of the momentum of the tournament could open the door to potential teams and tournaments – as well as clinics, instructional camps and more.