Oh, boy! Girls rock Little League World Series
More than six decades after Kathryn "Tubby" Johnston Massar cut off her braids, tucked her hair under her cap and became the first girl to play Little League baseball, she's delighted to see two girls in the Little League World Series.
"It's truly amazing. I'm very happy to see girls playing," said Massar, 78, of Yuba City, California.
Philadelphia's Mo'ne Davis and Canada's Emma March became the 17th and 18th girls to play in the tournament. It is only the third time in the event's 68-year history that two girls are playing in the same series.
Davis threw a two-hitter to help Philadelphia beat Nashville 4-0 last Friday. She had eight strikeouts and didn't walk a batter.
Davis, who received a noticeably louder reception than any other player during introductions, said she noticed plenty of girls younger than her in the audience. The applause heightened when Davis struck out the final batter, becoming the first girl to throw a shutout in Little League World Series history.
"It's very unreal. I never thought at the age of 13 I would be a role model," Davis said. "Hopefully, more girls play Little League."
March did not fare as well.
Batting cleanup ahead of her brother, Evan, and playing first base, she went hitless Friday in Canada's 4-3 loss to Mexico.
But March created some excitement when she stepped into the batter's box for the Vancouver, British Columbia, team. She drove a long fly ball to right field in the fourth inning that the crowd thought might be a home run. However, the hit sailed foul into the stands. Then in the top of the fifth, March stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and Canada down by two runs. After working the count to 2-2, she struck out.
Massar believes more girls will start to play in Little League and beyond. She thinks eventually there will be a woman in Major League Baseball.
Massar played in 1950, leading to a rule barring girls from playing which was overturned in 1974. The self-described "trailblazer" said she celebrates her role in history.
"It's something I'm proud of," she said. "Why not play baseball with the boys?"
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett was in South Williamsport on Friday and watched Davis' dominating performance.
"It goes to show you how sports have moved the last 30 or 40 years," the governor said, "and we wouldn't have thought of this 40 or 50 years ago. And today, she's out there pitching, doing a great job and I'm sitting there thinking, 'Is she going to go into professional baseball?' I don't know.''
Critical thinking challenge: Why is the first girl ever to play in Little League baseball so old?