The SheHawk: MLB is lacking in female employees

Veronica Wernicke, Opinion Editor

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Major League Baseball’s (MLB) postseason is upon us, as is the excitement that surrounds it as thousands of fans — myself included — are glued to their televisions in anticipation of cheering on their favorite MLB team. I would definitely call myself a baseball fan since I have loved watching and playing the game for as long as I can remember, so October baseball is definitely exciting for me.  

Although, I’m disappointed and not just because my Cubbies aren’t in the playoffs.

No, in fact, I’m disappointed in myself. I’m disappointed because it took me 20 years to notice and question the number of women who are involved in MLB. When you really think about it, it is not that hard to notice. Turn on any MLB game and the only female you will probably see on the field is the batgirl.

That’s great, don’t get me wrong, but I want to see more.

After this initial realization, I took to the internet to hopefully disprove this ridiculous notion I noticed. Much to my dismay, my results were not any more encouraging.

According to a Washington Post article from 2018, “In all, MLB counts 113 women working in baseball operations — defined as front office or on-field jobs — among its 30 teams, though the majority are in non-executive administrative or medical/training staff roles, as opposed to talent evaluation.”

In all of MLB history, there have only been 12 female owners according to a list done by Baseball-reference.com. And let me tell you it took some real digging to come across that saddening statistic. Of those 12 women, only one is alive and more than half appeared to have either shared ownership with their husbands or inherited team ownership from their male family members.  

That list might increase by one according to Portland’s KGW8. Portland, Oregon, is trying to bring the MLB to their city through the Portland Diamond Project. Back in June, singer Ciara, along with her husband Russell Wilson signed on as investors. This move would make them both minority owners.

“I have a daughter, you know, and this means a lot because it really is a dream come true to have an opportunity like this,” she said in a press conference. “I was kind of learning a lot more about female owners and there’s a very small list of ladies. And to know I’m joining that incredible bunch is exciting, but to also know that perhaps this could inspire the next batch of women to kind of have this opportunity and to open the door even more for women that would follow after.”

While having female owners are important and we need to see an increase in that area as well, it is even more important for the MLB to have more females with “on-field” jobs like umpires, general managers, managers and coaches because that is who MLB fans will see, recognize and look up too.  

One of the only “on-field” position I found a woman to hold was when Justin Siegel became the first female MLB coach in 2015. But, don’t get too excited because according to Sports Illustrated it was only as “a guest instructor at the team’s fall instructional league for prospects” for the Oakland Athletics.

It isn’t more encouraging when it comes to female umpires. According to CBS Sports, there are only two female umpires — Jen Pawol and Emma Charlesworth-Seiler. Before 2015, that number was zero. So while a little progress has been made there is still definitely a lot more improvement that needs to be made.

This is just appalling to find out and read — especially as a female MLB fan. I can’t be the only person to notice and think this? Right?

This begs the question of why the MLB still does not have more women involved in both its entire program but specifically its on-field organizations — especially given the increase in campaigning for women’s equal rights.

MLB really needs to start considering more women for their job openings. If it doesn’t, then it’s failing young women and female baseball fans all around the world.

According to the San Fransico Chronical, following the removal of San Francisco Giants General Manager Bobby Evans, the CEO Larry Baer said they would consider hiring a woman.  

“Sure … we would consider, of course, females,” said Baer.

Despite his optimistic comments, many Giants employees including manager Bruce Bochy are only throwing around the male pronouns in regard to the job opening.

“He’s going to be the guy who will be making the decisions,” Bochy has said. “Whatever he wants to do.”

Sorry Bochy, but how about saying “he or she’s going to be the person who will be making the decisions. Whatever he or she wants to do.”

I’m tired of hearing this same old narrative. I know that sometimes it seems like instincts, but we need to get better. We need to catch ourselves and teach others not to automatically refer to something just with male pronouns.  

We as women also need to keep stepping up to the plate — a nice little baseball pun for you — and letting men know that we are just as capable of doing their jobs. Jobs as baseball GMs, managers and coaches.  

I would love to see this issue change. Is it too much to ask and hope to see a female MLB GM, manager or coach in my lifetime?