Originally Published: Today.com
Randee Dawn, Columnist
Until this week, the Sonoma Stompers, a professional independent baseball team based in northern California, was an all-male affair. But that changed when the team hit a historic home run by signing two women to its ranks.
Congratulations to 17-year-old outfielder and pitcher Kelsie Whitmore and 25-year-old pitcher and infielder Stacy Piagno, who will now be in the team's starting lineup (Whitmore in left field, Piagno pitching)!
And they're here to stay.
"This isn't a one-day event," Sonoma general manager Theo Fightmaster (we love his name!) told MLB.com. "That's been done a dozen times. Let's give women a chance to be part of a team, let's give women a chance to play against men."
If there's no crying in baseball, there's been no coed teams with multiple women in professional baseball in over 60 years. Three women did play in the 1950s Negro Leagues, and more recently two female pitchers (Ila Borders and Eri Yoshida) played pro ball in the U.S. at different times.
But Sonoma, which is part of the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs, is changing the game by expecting to play both women at the same time.
Filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, whose winery Virginia Dare is a partner with the team, had pitched the concept to Fightmaster, who went on a three-year search to find the right players.
"My family would play coed baseball games and inevitably the star player would always be an aunt who could run and hit, and that made the games so much more fun," Coppola (director of such movies as "The Godfather") said in a statement. "When watching Major League Baseball, I always wondered why there couldn't be a coed team."
"When Francis tells you to try, you try," said Fightmaster to MLB.com. (Hey, at least he wasn't making an offer the team couldn't refuse.)
The team's newest players are expected to take the field on Friday, thus cementing the historic moment when they no longer need a league of their own.