Monday, November 17, 2008

16-year-old Japanese girl picked in pro baseball draft

This is pretty cool:

A 16-year-old schoolgirl is making a unique pitch to become the first woman to play professional baseball in Japan.

High school student Eri Yoshida was drafted by the Kobe 9 Cruise, a professional team in a new independent Japanese league that will start its first season in April.

"I always dreamed of becoming a professional," Yoshida, who is 5-feet tall and weighs 114 pounds, told a news conference Monday. "I have only just been picked by the team and haven't achieved anything yet."

Yoshida throws a side-arm knuckleball and says she wants to follow in the footsteps of Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield, who has built a successful major league career throwing a knuckleball.

I've always cheered for the players who succeed based on skill without having favorable genetics to supplement that. I suppose it comes back from when I swam competitively, and at the higher levels of competition tended to be shorter and slighter than the other swimmers. And I've never seen a sidearm knuckleball before.

The comments are slightly more depressing; they're the sort you get every time there's a discussion of women in baseball: many supportive folks, but a few who insist that women will never succeed at the professional level, or if they do--well, imagine how much better she'd be if she were a man! And on top of that, this one has all kinds of sexist/racist "Japanese schoolgirl" comments as well. (On the other hand, there's the kind of fan who acknowledges that this is quite an accomplishment but really just wants to figure out the physics and kinesiology involved.)

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