The growing trend of girls who play baseball will be celebrated and supported this weekend in Compton, Calif., where approximately 100 girls will participate in the Trailblazer Series, hosted by Major League Baseball and USA Baseball.Now in its second year, the three-day event, to be held at the MLB Youth
The growing trend of girls who play baseball will be celebrated and supported this weekend in Compton, Calif., where approximately 100 girls will participate in the Trailblazer Series, hosted by Major League Baseball and USA Baseball.
Now in its second year, the three-day event, to be held at the MLB Youth Academy, is for girls 13 and younger who hail from the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada. The girls will be divided into six teams, selected randomly, and will be coached by some of the nation's top female baseball coaches and players.
Major League Baseball has been collaborating with dozens of national organizations, all of which have committed to providing girls the opportunity to participate in their baseball leagues. USA Baseball's National Member Organizations -- AABC, American Legion, Babe Ruth League, Dixie Boys and Majors, Dixie Youth, Little League International, NABF, NFHS, PONY and USSSA -- are all committed to making young women feel welcome playing baseball in their leagues.
"Women playing baseball is an important part of our sport's history," Commissioner Rob Manfred said. "That legacy is also significant to the game's present and future. We are proud to work alongside USA Baseball in creating events that raise the profile of girls and women in baseball. We are committed to ensuring that any young woman who chooses to play baseball, particularly through our RBI programs and MLB Youth Academies, will have the opportunity to do so."
Practices will be held Friday in advance of the two-day round-robin tournament Friday and Saturday. Additionally, Trailblazer Series participants partake in a series of special activities, including non-game instruction from the coaches, appearances by special guests connected to baseball and a visit to Dodger Stadium on Saturday. The entire event is completely expense-free for participants.
The list of special guests includes three members of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League -- Maybelle "Mae" Blair, Shirley "Hustle" Burkovich and Jeneane Lesko. Olympic gold medalist Jennie Finch, who serves as Youth Programs Ambassador for MLB, will also attend, as will congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán from California's 44th District.
Rep. Barragán, who plays in the Congressional Baseball Game each year and grew up playing baseball with boys, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Friday.
The coaching staff includes Justine Siegal, founder of Baseball for All, and 12 members of the USA Baseball Women's National Team.
"I'm honored," Siegal said. "It's phenomenal to see Major League Baseball support these girls and see how the Trailblazer Series has grown. For me, it's a dream come true as a coach to see it all happening.
"I hope the girls get from the Trailblazer Series the knowledge that baseball is a game for them, and they're wanted."
The Trailblazer Series will feature special speaker sessions, which will include presentations from notable women from the baseball and girl's baseball industries such as MLB senior vice president of baseball operations Kim Ng, Los Angeles Angels senior vice president of finance and administration Molly Jolly, executive director of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation Nichol Whiteman and others.
The goal of the presentations is to provide information on career experiences both on and off the field as well as to encourage participants to continue playing the game.
The Trailblazer Series will, fittingly, be held in conjunction with the celebration of baseball's most famous trailblazer, Jackie Robinson, whose memory is honored every year on April 15, the day he broke baseball's color barrier in 1947.
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.