The Sonoma Stompers have made history by signing two women, who will start playing on Friday, July 1, to their roster for the summer.
“Seventeen-year-old Kelsie Whitmore, a pitcher and outfielder from Temecula, California, and 25-year-old Stacy Piagno, a pitcher and infielder from St. Augustine, Florida, will be in the lineup on Friday against the San Rafael Pacifics,” writes Kate Feldman of the team’s website.
Both women have extensive experience playing hardball. Piagno has a gold medal from her time playing with the U.S. women’s national baseball team at the 2015 Pan American Games. Whitmore graduated from the California Baseball Academy, per the report.
Both will be attending the Women’s Baseball World Cup in South Korea this upcoming September as members of the U.S. women’s national baseball team.
As pointed out by SB Nation’s Catherine Slonksnis, this marks the first time since the 1950s that a woman has been signed to a professional baseball team. Helping to make this historic event happen, famed movie director Francis Ford Coppola used his winery to sponsor the Stompers “in an effort to promote the recruitment, development and advancement of women in baseball.”
Coppola elaborated on what sparked his motive.
“My family would play co-ed 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 said in the press release.
“When watching Major League Baseball, I always wondered why there couldn’t be a co-ed team. It’s the one major sport in which weight and strength come less into play. So when my Sonoma winery became involved with the Stompers, I had the opportunity to turn this thought into a reality and recruit these amazing women capable of playing alongside men.”
This isn’t the first major social barrier the Stompers have helped to break, either. “Sean Conroy became the first openly gay active professional baseball player when he pitched a three-hit shutout for the Stompers in June 2015,” writes Feldman.
We certainly wish the Stompers, Whitmore and Piagno the best in their endeavors.