Justine Siegal has already made a lot of history, and she’s making it again – this time with the Oakland Athletics. On Tuesday, the A’s announced that Siegal would join the organization as a Fall Instructional League guest instructor, making her the first female coach in a major-league baseball organization.
Siegal is hardly new to “firsts”. She was also the first woman to throw batting practice to a major league team, when she pitched BP for the Cleveland Indians in 2011. She then threw BP for five other teams that same year, including the Oakland Athletics. Siegal also made history when she became the first female to coach at the professional level, overseeing first base for the Brockton Rox in 2009. The Rox are an independent league team, but it was still a major feat in a male-dominated sport.
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More recently, Siegal has spent her time working with Baseball For All, a non-profit organization that she founded to give young women the opportunity to play baseball. Most youth baseball leagues are geared towards boys, while girls can typically only play softball. Siegal has given the girls who participate in her organization the opportunity to break baseball barriers, and now she will get yet another opportunity of her own.
The Instructional League is geared towards minor leaguers who are already in the A’s system, and it runs for two weeks – beginning on Sunday and lasting through October 17. According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the A’s intend to have her assist with normal infield coach duties, as well as utilize her Ph.D. in sport and exercise psychology to educate minor leaguers about the mental aspect of baseball during off-field workshops.
Siegal’s role in Fall Instructs is a phenomenal step for women in baseball. For those who haven’t followed her career, Siegal is knowledgeable about the sport, and fully capable of coaching in a major league organization. The A’s haven’t announced who their minor league coaches will be next season, so it’s possible that the first female coach could become the first full-time female coach, if the team likes what they see in October.
The A’s are a very progressive organization, and they are the perfect team to be the first to allow women on the field. While the number of women in front offices has increased every so incrementally over the past few decades, baseball is still a male dominated sport. If a woman can coach – or even play – as well as a man, why shouldn’t she be on the field?
In June, a 16-year-old French shortstop made MLB history when her name was added to the international registration list, making her eligible to be signed by a Major League club. Melissa Mayeux is not likely to ever be drafted, but the fact that she’s even on the list is a testament to the fact that professional sports organizations are finally waking up to the fact that some women are just as capable of playing high-level sports as men. Not all women possess the athleticism, but neither do all men, so it’s time to stop making so many distinctions between the two.
The hiring of Justine Siegal is a step in the right direction, and the Oakland Athletics should be proud of their decision to add her to their organization, even if only for two weeks.