Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

HERMAN: Games on Saturdays are for the Girls, Too

In this edition of “Out of Left Field,” Eilat Herman (CAS ’26) calls on MLB to recognize, celebrate and include women as crucial parts of baseball fandom to grow the game.
Instagram @mlbstorenyc | Major League Baseball (MLB) must prioritize the creation of women’s jerseys in an attempt to expand the game’s audience.

The Miami Marlins hired General Manager Kim Ng after the 2020 season, and she became the first female general manager of a major men’s sports team in the United States. Three years later…

Giancarlo Stanton just hit a grand slam for the New York Yankees as I wrote this sentence. I love him.

Anyway, three years later, Ng led a once-struggling Marlins roster to a 2023 playoff berth. The Marlins offered her a contract extension into 2024 — with a demotion attached. Ng declined and is currently unemployed.

In entirely unrelated news, the Marlins lost their first nine games of the 2024 season. Perhaps this is a coincidence, but it could also be karma’s response to the dismissive way in which Major League Baseball (MLB) and its fans treat women.

I am one of the most ardent baseball fans I know. In fact, I’m writing this article while I’m watching a Yankees’ game. However, when I tell people — or more likely, when they see me in one of my many multicolored Yankees’ hats — they have one of two reactions: either they do not believe me and demand that I “name five players” in order to validate my fandom, or they call me obsessed, pejoratively.

I’m willing to bet as much money as Shohei Ohtani’s now-disgraced former translator Ippei Mizuhara did that male fans do not elicit the same reaction.

But when MLB takes almost no action to ensure that its female audience feels welcome, it is difficult to blame individuals for these unconsciously sexist responses.

Every time I happen to stroll past heaven, my feet carry me inside. When I say heaven, I’m of course referring to the official MLB megastore near the hell that is Times Square. The last time I dropped in was after Hanukkah, during which my twin brother received an authentic 1998 World Series Derek Jeter jersey and I did not. Like any reasonable — albeit jealous — person, I asked the store’s attendant where I could find authentic jerseys in women’s sizes.

The attendant looked me up and down, put on a face somewhere between guilt and bewilderment and pointed somewhere behind him.

“We have kids’ sizes!”

I stared at him, probably rudely. But in fairness, I was appalled. The largest MLB merchandise store in the world — whose sole job is to sell obnoxiously-priced jerseys to gullible tourists and grow its audience — does not sell authentic women’s jerseys? 

It is as if MLB does not see any value in engaging with their female audience. Perhaps their marketing team spends its free time poring over the statistics, recognizing that a disproportionate majority of avid MLB fans are men. Maybe they do not even attempt to sell women’s jerseys out of fear that not enough fans will buy them.

Still, MLB cannot throw its hands up in defeat and keep women’s sizes off the shelves without first attempting to market directly to women. In turn, it cannot claim to be adequately marketing to women if its largest store does not sell official jerseys in women’s sizes. But currently, MLB’s actions, or lack thereof, yield to a self-perpetuating cycle of sexism, as they have made few attempts at shattering the preexisting barriers to entry that women face.

Further, if MLB truly aims to increase its female fanbase, it cannot stop at increasing its jersey stock. Rather, it must deliberately ensure that its fans grow up wanting to wear them. 

My parents did exactly that. They draped me in a Derek Jeter onesie, bought me a tiny green lefty baseball glove and sat me down in front of an easel to learn the rules of baseball.

But not everyone grows up in such a baseball-friendly environment. Some children are raised by parents who think it is “b*ring.” Even girls in baseball-supporting households often grow up hearing that baseball is for their brothers, not for them.

At the moment, this is absolutely correct — their brothers can grow up playing baseball, and they often cannot. Instead, they are unceremoniously steered toward softball or other sports, just as I was. 

A concerted effort by MLB can change that. MLB can sponsor girls’ baseball leagues, sell a wide variety of women’s merchandise and hire female leadership to increase their visibility in the sport.

If I ever have a daughter, I want her to grow up in a world where MLB has taken these steps. The only thing worse than raising a daughter who roots for the Red Sox is raising a daughter who does not care about baseball at all.

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