Baseball is Changing the Game for Women in Sport
Twelve years ago, Genevieve Beacom was a five-year-old girl who was sick of watching her brother play baseball. She’d been going to all of his trainings, and to games every Sunday - so she asked her parents if she could start playing herself.
Now, Gen is a 17-year-old trailblazer who is already making ripples in baseball across the globe. She made history in January 2022 for becoming the first female pitcher for an Australian professional baseball team, debuting for the Melbourne Aces. She was subbed into the match in the final innings against Adelaide Giants. She’s currently attending the U/18’s Australian World Cup Training Camp in Canberra over the school holidays, and one day she wants to play professionally in the big leagues in America.
For most of her life, Gen has played on boys’ teams. And because she started playing at such a young age, that’s always felt normal to her.
“Until now, I haven’t had that experience of not belonging. They always accepted me for being me. I didn’t really understand how much I made a difference to women in baseball, and it’s been such a great thing to watch other girls and women be inspired by just me pitching and doing what I love.”
Next on the cards for Gen was the Australian Women’s Baseball Showcase in Geelong, running from the 5th – 8th of May 2022. Adelaide Giants, Brisbane Bandits and Victoria Aces competed across the four days, with the best 54 women in the country and 7 imports from Canada, Japan and US amongst them. Gen and the Aces came away from the tournament as the 2022 Australian Women's Baseball Showcase champions, defeating the Brisbane Bandits in the Grand Final 7-4.
“There’s something special and different about showcases like this. There’s a whole lot more on the line, it’s louder and more exciting… the atmosphere and competitive culture is something I love... and it's so exciting to see all of that talent around Australian all in one place.”
Commentating the showcase wass former Australian centre-fielder, Amy McCann. Amy played for the women’s national team for over a decade and was named Baseball Australia’s Female Player of the Year in 2006. She also played on the Victorian women’s baseball team for 12 years, winning several titles in that time.
When Amy played professionally, she also had to work full time to support herself.
“I was in the gym every morning, I’d go for a run at lunch, all my leave at work was reserved for baseball, and every cent I had went to baseball.”
She knew plenty of players who decided that between physio, fees, equipment and travel, they’d have to give up the sport they loved simply because they couldn’t afford to continue.
The Australian Women’s Baseball Showcase was another step towards the launch of a professional women’s baseball league in Australia (A League of Her Own). Baseball Australia hopes to create a pathway for elite women baseballers by creating a sustainable domestic league with international reach. The goal is for the league to be a platform to showcase the world’s best talent to young Australian women and encourage junior girls’ participation within Australia.
Amy feels lucky, privileged and amazed at the career she was able to have, but can’t help wondering how much brighter the future of our Australian women baseballers might be with an adequate league behind them.
“Australia has won two medals in a World Cup, playing against some of the biggest and strongest leagues in the world. Imagine if we got a professional league, how far could we go then?”
“It’s a hard sport, it’s tough, and it’s fully self-funded. Just come and watch – you’ll be absolutely amazed,” said MCann.
Wednesday 20th April, 2022