MLB GRIT offers girls an All-Star experience

July 14th, 2021

In 1994, the Colorado Silver Bullets was the sole professional all-women’s baseball team in the country. The Silver Bullets played against amateur, semi-pro and Minor League men’s teams, pulling off one winning season (23-22) before shuttering in 1997.

On Friday, a new group of young women took the field in Colorado. They assembled on Metro State University’s baseball diamond -- a mere four-mile drive from Coors Field -- to show what they and the Silver Bullets already knew: Girls belong in baseball.

“That is something we were really excited about, coming back here, because we know there is an exciting legacy of women’s baseball in the area,” said Elizabeth Benn, MLB’s senior coordinator of baseball operations. “So really, this weekend we had a lot of girls’ baseball programming and women’s baseball programming.”

MLB GRIT: Girls ID Tour is a talent showcase for female baseball players, modeled after pro-style workouts. The top performers will be invited to elite baseball development programs hosted by MLB and USA Baseball, including the Girls Baseball Breakthrough Series.

About 15 girls, ages 13-17, attended the Denver GRIT workout. They showcased their skills by doing drills that tested their athleticism and feel for the game, including baserunning and fielding at multiple positions.

Although most of the girls lived in Colorado -- a few had traveled to be there -- there were no teammates, meaning that most of them were the only girl on their respective team. Benn said this can be common at GRIT events, and she hopes that bringing them together will spark a community.

“All these girls are on their boys’ teams in the area; they’re the only girl,” Benn said. “Then they come to this event, and they get to see for the first time, ‘I’m not the only one out there.’”

This year’s GRIT tour is smaller than that of 2020, which held workouts in five U.S. cities. The COVID-19 pandemic derailed some of the planned baseball development activities, but going virtual helped the programs reach more participants and focus on different aspects of the game.

“On [the] field, you’re focusing on the mechanics, on performance, on strategy, all those types of things,” Benn said. “Virtually, we actually got to focus on some of the mental side of the game.

“We actually saw the girls develop and shift their mental game throughout the event, so it was a different form of development event that had really great results.”

Benn, who played baseball as a girl and now plays in the New York City Metro League, said it means a lot to her to be involved in growing baseball among female athletes. GRIT being a part of the 2021 All-Star week, she said, is a special experience for girls in baseball.

“When I was a kid, if there was an All-Star Game in my city and girls’ baseball was being recognized there, it would have meant so much to me,” Benn said. “It’s that additional layer of support that they sometimes need when they are facing adversity as the only girl on their team or the only girl in their area.

“That’s one of the big things that we’re still striving toward, is normalizing the fact that girls’ baseball, women’s baseball exists, and it exists at a high quality.”