Woman makes her pitch to Rays in BP
Photo by Dennis Maffezzoli.
Justine Siegal made quite an impression throwing batting practice to the Rays on Wednesday, showing off a good arm and poise under scrutiny.
Rays camp was the third of six scheduled stops by Siegal, who is advocating for increased participation of women in baseball (with a pro league her ultimate goal) and also honoring the memory of Christina Green, the 9-year-old girl killed in the January Arizona shootings. She previously threw to the Indians and A's, said she would be eager for the chance to be hired by a team as a BP pitcher.
"I think that was my best outing because I was a little less nervous, the Rays have such a nice relaxed atmosphere and I'm hearing music in the background ("Soul Sister" when she started). It was fun to throw,'' she said. "I would like to get hired by a team. I'm here to create awareness about how much girls and women love baseball, but I'm a baseball player and baseball coach at heart. So for sure, I'd love to get hired and I've love to throw to more teams.''
Rays manager Joe Maddon was impressed with what she did and how she did it, as were some of the players she threw to. "I was pretty impressed,'' OF Sam Fuld said. "To be honest with you, it wasn't a whole lot different than anything we see on a day to day basis. It was pretty firm and straight. Just overall pretty impressive. ... It takes a lot of courage to do what she's doing, so no matter how she performed, let alone the fact that she did great, it takes a lot of courage and guts to get out there and do that.''
e may have been getting a little tired at the end, but I think every coach does so I don't think that's any different.'
Fuld said Siegal had "a nice, natural arm action and throws pretty hard,'' and threw "a ton of strikes." And, no, Siegal's pigtails didn't throw him off. "You're supposed to focus in on the bill of the hat so you don't worry about the pony tails,'' he said.
Siegal had tried to play for the Silver Bullets women's pro team in the late 1990s but hurt her arm, and has been an assistant college and an independent league coach. She runs the organization Baseball for All that works to create opportunities for girls and women to get involved in the game, through playing, umpiring, coaching. "Any thing we can do to get girls and women out of the seats and onto the field,'' she said.
She called the opportunity "a dream come true" and said she has gotten numerous emails from women - and men - in support.
Maddon met her at the winter meetings and was impressed then, and more interested when he heard she was also honoring the memory of Green, with a patch on her sleeve. "I love the fact that she's wearing that patch,'' Maddon said. "It happened in Arizona, my kids live over there, Christina was 9 years old, I've got a 9-year-old granddaughter (Tyler), so it smacked me pretty good. So when I saw her wearing patch it made even more sense to me that we had her throw here.''