Chicago Cubs: Will women ever take the field in MLB?
Chicago Cubs: Girls want to play… or coach the Cubs
Girls don’t want to be just fans making googly eyes for Chicago Cubs third baseman, Kris Bryant or first baseman Anthony Rizzo; they want to be more than fans, they want to be teammates.
They have the same love and passion for the game as boys, and so it’s not unusual to see girls from second grade through eighth grade playing Little League baseball explained Keilman.
"“What happened is that schools were trying to be in compliance, so they came up with equivalency sports: baseball for boys, softball for girls,” she said. “Effectively, what that did is shut out girls from playing baseball.” Little League, where many baseball players get their start, first allowed girls to play in 1974 following a court fight."
With that rule change in 1974, young Rachel Folden growing up in Southern California, with love for America’s pastime, got to take the field and play. She played in the local Little League and was easily recognized as a future star athlete.
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Like many girls that grow up with baseball, once she got into eighth grade, she had to decide whether to give up her passion or follow a sport that might provide her a career like softball. It’s a hard choice to make, especially if you’re a talented player like Folden, but it’s a choice young girls are making every day, especially with no MLB Women’s League and little support past college.
Folden made the switch and went onto a professional softball career playing five seasons in the National Pro Fastpitch league but always kept one foot in the coaching arena intending to do it full time after she retired.
In 2010, Folden decided to put her training to professional use and opened up her own business in Merrillville, Indiana, called Folden Fastpitch. At her new school, Folden began training the young northern Indiana girls’ softball players in hitting techniques. Although she coached several different things from the offense, defense, catching and throwing, hitting was Folden’s passion and the results were obvious.
The Chicago Cubs had hired Justin Stone, the president of Elite Baseball Training, to help provide instruction for the Cubs, but in 2017 Stone had partnered with Folden and knew she was one of the best. Folden Fastpitch brought her softball expertise to Elite Baseball Training but made sure that Stone promised to let her coach baseball hitting as well.
The Cubs made Stone the Director of Hitting recently, and as the story goes, when one moves up – everyone moves up; Folden got her chance to interview for a hitting coach job with the Cubs and became the team’s first woman coach.
While the Cubs have made an enormous step forward, will MLB make a step toward incentives like draft picks for clubs that hire women to play baseball? Or will MLB take a page from its own history and bring together several all-women’s clubs to create an MLB Women’s League?
For America’s favorite game – it’s way’ past time’.