Justine Siegal: First Woman to Coach for a MLB Organization
Justine was just 13 years old when her coach told her that girls play softball – not baseball. At that moment, she vowed she’d never quit. At the age of 16, she set her sights on becoming a collegiate baseball coach. Laughed at and told no man would ever listen to a woman on a baseball field, she grew even more determined to realize her dream. With the bigger picture in mind, Justine returned to school at 30 years old to pursue a Ph. D. in Sport and Exercise Psychology to improve her odds by “out-educating the guys.” While at Springfield College, she served as an assistant baseball coach, where yes, the men did listen to her.
Justine was hired in 2009 to coach first base for the independent minor league team, the Brockton Rox. In 2011 she broke boundaries by becoming the first woman to throw batting practice to a Major League Baseball (MLB) team – the Cleveland Indians. She went on to pitch batting practice to the Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays, St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros and the New York Mets. In 2015 Justine made history again by becoming the first woman to coach for a MLB organization, the Oakland Athletics Instructional League. In 2016, Justine coached the Normal Cornbelters, an independent men’s professional team in the Frontier League. Her baseball card is now a collector’s gem.
Justine made a commitment early on to open doors for girls and women to play baseball, the game she loves. She founded Baseball for All, a national nonprofit providing opportunities for girls to play, coach, and lead in baseball. In 2002, Justine formed the Sparks, the first all-girl team to compete in a national tournament for “boys.” This team was the subject of the documentary Girls of Summer. In 2015, Baseball For All hosted the first national girls baseball tournament in the U.S.
Her accomplishments and contributions have been noted by Sports Illustrated, ESPN, national news programs and papers, as well as popular publications including Working Mother and O, The Oprah Magazine. She’s also been honored to share her story firsthand with audiences of The Queen Latifah Show, and the The Steve Harvey Show. When asked about the importance of her historical accomplishments, Justine has been quoted saying, “It’s an honor to make history, but it’s much more important that we build a better future.”
When not on the field, Justine enjoys time with her fiercely independent and free-spirited 19-year-old daughter Jasmine.
“This is not my story. It’s our story” – Justine Siegal