Beat Them at Their Own Game

davisLittle league baseball was founded in 1939 By Carl Stotz and his wife Grayce.  Carl often played baseball with his nephews and other residents of their town, but decided that he wanted to make a more formal league for all the young boys in his town. They organized teams in Williamsport, Pennsylvania and began playing against each other. The league was a success and quickly gained popularity. Soon leagues were popping up all over the nation and eventually all over the world.  One of the biggest traditions of the summer is the Little League World Series, where teams who have won their regional competitions, gather in Williamsport to play a tournament to decide the world champion.  What started as a small city wide league is now an international phenomenon with the best thirteen year olds in the world playing baseball and being broadcast on ESPN worldwide. Little League baseball has long been a traditionally boys sport.  While girls are allowed to play, many cities set up separate softball leagues for girls to play in. When the Little League World Series arrived in 2014, a team from Pennsylvania had a very unique member on their team.  Her name was Mo’ne Davis and with one game, she captured the attention of the nation.

On august 15, 2014 she pitched an incredible game for her team.  As the starting pitcher for Pennsylvania, a position reserved for the hardest throwers on the team, she completely mystified the other team. Mo’ne threw pitches that were almost untouchable. She struck out 8 batters and only gave up two hits in the entire game. What was even more impressive was the ease at which she did everything.  She was throwing harder and faster than her male counterparts, and the opposing team could not keep up with her.  The nation began to take notice. Many celebrities and athletes took to social media to praise her performance.  When ESPN did their scientific examination of her pitches on their segment called “Sports Science”, they found that her pitches were reaching top speeds of 70 miles per hour. This is incredible for a 13-year-old.  Many of the boys pitching against her would reach the range of the low 60s, but not many people could throw as fast as she could. The pitcher’s mound is closer to the batter in Little League than it is in professional baseball, and when adjusted for distance and reaction time, it was found that her 70 miles per pitch was the same as a 91 miles per hour pitch in the major leagues. Credit for her incredible pitching speed was given to her flawless technique and mechanics which allowed her to throw pitch after pitch at that velocity.

Five days later, she pitched in the little league world series again and the nation tuned in.  The game set records for viewership in her home state of Pennsylvania and also across the nation.  While she didn’t have as much success during this game as the first, she had already started a phenomenon. She had taken the nation by storm and showed the world that she was just as capable as any of the boys who were playing the game.

She immediately became a role model for girls and boys alike watching the game. Many people held signs up in the crowd that read “I want to throw like a girl”, taking a once derogatory phrase and making it a rallying cry for people who were impressed by Mo’ne. While her team didn’t end up winning the whole tournament, she was able to help proceed as far as she could.

After the Little League World Series was done, Mo’ne continued to try and be the best role model she could for young girls everywhere.  She went on many talk shows including the Late Show with Jimmy Fallon where she encouraged people to work hard to achieve their goals.  She continued to make a name for herself at the Celebrity basketball game during NBA All-star weekend where she scored basket after basket on Kevin Hart, who couldn’t stop her despite the fact that he was a grown man. She was awarded with the 2014 Sports Kid of the Year award by the magazine Sports Illustrated for Kids, and won an ESPY award for Best Breakthrough Athlete of the Year.  She has shown that through hard work you can achieve great things no matter the expectations put on you by society.

Mo’ne continues to excel in sports, especially basketball, which she hopes to play professionally one day. She continues to encourage girls everywhere to be the best that they can, no matter the circumstances.

History of Little League.” History of Little League. Accessed December 02, 2016. http://www.littleleague.org/learn/about/historyandmission.htm.

Rhoden, William C. “A Mound Becomes a Summit: Mo’ne Davis Dominates at Little League World Series.” http://www.nytimes.com. August 15, 2014. Accessed December 2, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/16/sports/baseball/mone-davis-dominates-at-little-league-world-series.html?_r=1.

 

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6 thoughts on “Beat Them at Their Own Game

  1. This is a great story of a change in the little league experience. As a young softball player my older sister encouraged me to try out for baseball teams, but I didn’t feel comfortable with it. What other girls and women have participated in baseball on higher levels in the past? Are there official policies preventing women from playing sports like football and baseball that have no female counterparts like soccer and basketball?

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    1. there are no specific rules from preventing women from playing football or baseball. There have been several female kickers on college football teams but no one has broken the barrier to different positions other than that. As far as a professional woman baseball player, some experts say it is definitely possible. The lack of female players comes more from the lack of opportunities more than anything else.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/22/well/move/when-will-women-play-major-league-baseball-and-not-just-on-tv.html?_r=0

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  2. Mo’ne Davis is an inspiration has helped people realize that girls can be just as competitive as boys. I love how they took the negative saying of “throw like a girl” and changed it into a positive saying that can encourage young girls to work hard. Would Mo’ne be able to play professional with men? Or are there rules against this?

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  3. I’m glad that, as opposed to this “highlight reel” of Lisa Leslie (a famous women’s basketball player): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjvgaT6RmBs

    We see Mo’one doing her sport and not on the red carpet or playing with barbies or balancing her “feminine life” with her “sport life”

    Mo’ne Davis will hopefully be honored for her life as an athlete, and not an athlete-mother or an athlete-diva or athlete-fashion model. Her identity in popular culture needs to remain primarily for what makes her a celebrity – her athleticism. Anything else, in my opinion, is unimportant.

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  4. I love seeing stories of women, young or old, breaking gender barriers and entering typically male fields. It’s a little tiring, however, to note that in order for women in these fields to succeed, they can’t be just as good as the other men; they have to be better. Women have a history of having to prove themselves simply because of their gender.

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