Baseball’s inclusion and diversity department is cheering today after 23-year-old Kelsie Whitmore made Atlantic League history Sunday by becoming the first female to start a game in the league.
Staten Island FerryHawks manager Edgardo Alfonso scribbled Whitmore into the lineup and BOOM…history.
The Cal State Fullerton softball alum, who started in left field and recorded flyball outs, went 0-for-2 at the plate batting in the ninth spot while also being hit on the left shoulder by a breaking ball.
“I’m grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given. This one, by far, I’m really looking forward to, because it’s next level for me,” Whitmore said after the game.
Now that Whitmore has started an independent league, what’s next?
“Playing baseball at the highest level is my goal. You know, if you ask any other guy that’s going to be in the league what his goal is, it’s the same thing, to get to the next level and play at the highest level I could possibly play at,” Whitmore added.
“Eventually, I want to play in affiliated ball. I want to make this game my career, my living, and just, you know, be a part of it as much as I can.”
Whitmore broke into Independent baseball as an 18-year-old when she played for Sonoma of the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs. Over a two-year span, she had two hits in 30 at-bats, including 17 strikeouts. As a pitcher, she started one game and gave up six earned runs in two innings of work.
Does Whitmore deserve a shot at affiliated ball? That’s for a minor league GM to decide. How bad is that GM trying to sell tickets?
Maybe we pump the brakes and let Whitmore get a few indie ball at-bats first.
Women playing independent baseball isn’t some groundbreaking moment. Pitcher Ila Borders played four seasons of independent ball from St. Paul to Duluth and Madison before ending her career in 2000 after five games for Zion in the Western League. She finished 2-4 in 52 games with a 6.75 ERA.
In 2017, Borders explained how her dream of playing affiliated ball dissolved.
“I was talking to the Reds and (owner) Marge Schott said, ‘Yes, we’re going to do this.’ And then right before (2000 spring training) they said, ‘We’re not going to do it because we’re already getting a lot of media attention about it. We don’t want it to be a distraction.’ ”
Now? Baseball’s diversity and inclusion department is pushing hard for this moment to happen. It’s just a matter of time at this point.
If not Whitmore, it will be someone else — soon.