Genevieve Beacom is the first woman to pitch professionally in Australia

One of the few times Genevieve Beacom remembers boys or men who objected to her playing baseball among them is when she was 11 years old...


One of the few times Genevieve Beacom remembers boys or men who objected to her playing baseball among them is when she was 11 years old. he began to cry.

Was he afraid of being humiliated by a girl or was he opposed to her even being in the game?

“I think it was a bit of both,” Beacom said with a chuckle in a telephone interview from his home in Australia on Monday.

Either way, she thought it was funny, she said, and hit the boy. Six years later, she says she never faces such incidents again. Why would she do it? She’s played baseball alongside boys her whole life, and most of Australia’s best know her from the circuit. Some are his friends, and others are compelled to respect his talent.

The latter point was evident in Melbourne on Saturday when Beacom, 17, became the first woman to pitch for a competitive Australian League Baseball team, making her professional debut for the Melbourne Aces in a game against the Adelaide Giants.

Beacom, a lanky southpaw with a looping curved ball, threw a scoreless inning in relief, demonstrating remarkable poise for his age. The opposing hitters, for their part, showed neither histrionics nor dramatic gestures, and there were no tears. It was just baseball at the highest level in Australia, one of the emerging hotbeds of baseball talent in the world.

“It’s not like Jackie Robinson, who had to deal with all this hatred when he stepped through the color barrier,” said Justin Huber, Aces general manager. “You could see it on the batters’ faces the other night, and in their approach. It felt natural, like, “We’re all here playing baseball and Genevieve throws because she can get strikeouts.”

“At the same time, it was an incredible experience.

Huber, who at the time was a wide receiver who signed with the Mets in 2000 and eventually played for the Royals, Padres and Twins, signed a player participation agreement with Beacom this month. This put her on the Aces list, albeit without a paycheck, so she could retain her NCAA eligibility. His immediate goal is to play college baseball in the United States, but maybe even more awaits him.

At 6ft 2in, with a fastball that peaks at 84 miles an hour, a solid shift, and that elliptical curve, Beacom is essentially a typical southpaw prospect who happens to be female.

In fact, when it comes to the league she’s in, her age is almost as noticeable as her gender. Beacom is still a high school student, she attends classes every day and sometimes slips away early to train or participate in games.

Huber said there are usually only a handful of 17-year-olds playing in the Australian league, which is an off-season certified league for Major League Baseball. This year the league canceled its regular season due to the coronavirus, but teams like Melbourne and Adelaide are barnstorming.

Discussing the quality of the competition, Huber said the league is something between Class A and Class AA in the US minor league system, a cut above college baseball. The league has been home to former and future major leagues, like Jeremy Guthrie, Byung-hyun Kim and Delmon Young, as well as a veritable army of college players.

“College baseball is one of my big goals,” Beacom said. “Every baseball player wants to qualify for the majors. But we’ll see how far the game can take me, whether it’s college, minor leagues, majors. Wherever it takes me, I’m just happy to make the trip.

This ever-increasing route began when Beacom was 4 years old. His older brother, Sam Trend-Beacom, 24, played college ball at Lower Columbia College in Longview, Washington. Like so many younger siblings, Beacom followed when her brother played youth baseball and soon wanted to play herself. She started with T-ball and moved on to junior baseball. She loved it and nothing could stop her, even if some tried.

In Australia, like so many other baseball countries, girls are often diverted into girls-only softball or baseball leagues. But Beacom has managed to resist this sort of categorization. She had become good friends with the boys on her teams and wanted to stay with them. Why couldn’t she continue?

“I just liked being with them and wanted to stick with it,” she said. “These guys understood that I had a feel for the game and that I could really compete with them. They still do.

Beacom played a year of softball. She hated it and quickly returned to the sport she loves. But the softball issue kept coming back because of the prevailing view that the road to American colleges for girls who play bat and ball is through softball.

At a recent college fair, Beacom met with an advisor and asked him about baseball scholarships at American universities.

“He turned to me and said, ‘There are no baseball scholarships for girls. They play softball, they don’t play baseball, ”said Beacom. “But he didn’t know me. He didn’t know baseball was my sport. It certainly happens a lot to most girls which is pretty annoying because a lot more girls are playing baseball now which is great to see.

Beacom joined the Aces elite development program in Melbourne several years ago, which put her on the radar of policymakers like Huber, who served as Aces general manager for seven years. She also pitched junior baseball for the state of Victoria and at an under-16 tournament a year ago for the nation’s top 200 boys, where she recorded an earned-run average of 0.00 . She is on track to play for Australia’s Under-18 team for the World Cup.

Huber said Beacom was once considered one of Victoria’s top 25 junior pitchers, but it was then. She worked hard and improved quickly, catching the attention of the Aces coaching staff, especially Peter Moylan, the Aces manager, who had a 12-season career as a pitcher with the Braves, the Aces. Dodgers and the Royals.

After watching Beacom shoot the ball in a recent bullpen session, throwing it with good control and movement, Moylan turned to his bench coach, Jon Deeble, and said, “Jon , this girl must be on our team. “

“It had nothing to do with a boy, a girl, a woman, a man, whatever you call it,” Moylan said over the phone. “It was strictly that I watched what she did with baseball, and it was fantastic. I wanted her on my team.

Moylan also felt that Beacom would thrive working with pitching coach Graeme Lloyd, a lanky former MLB southpaw who won the World Series with the Yankees in 1996 and 1998. Huber agreed and Moylan approached Beacom to ask. what she would think of joining the parent club. .

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I was amazed.”

Within days, she was pitching in a game, shaken with nerves at first, but able to regain her focus and determination – which impressed Huber the most – to pitch a scoreless inning on 17 shots.

His father, Brendan, was in awe of the spectacle and the atmosphere in the stadium and beyond. News of her daughter’s success traveled the world and was reported by CNN, The Guardian in England, NBC News, Fox Sports and many other media.

“It was an incredible trip for Geneviève,” said her father. “The media coverage has been astronomical and the support from just about everyone. It has been great.

Some American independent minor league teams have reached out to Huber to assess whether she would be interested in signing with them. Huber tells them that Beacom has her heart in college, and he thinks that’s the best path for her too. At least for now.

“But 12 months ago, I didn’t think we would be talking about a 17-year-old and Aces in the same sentence,” he said. “In 12 months, who knows what’s going to happen. The world is at his feet.

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