One of the most famous lines in baseball movies is Tom Hanks admonishing Penny Marshall with, “there is no crying in baseball” in the 1992 movie, “A League of their Own.”

Nobody would make such a movie in today’s political climate, but 32 years ago folks were not so easily offended and regularly attended movies at the cinema, where it cost about $7 to see a film.

Pardon the longing for yesteryear stuff, but society has changed both for better and worse, and one of the better parts is the opportunities that have opened up in Major League Baseball, especially at the executive and broadcasting levels, for women.

But great things were also accomplished by women in baseball in the distant past, and we would be remiss if we neglected mentioning them in our list of the 10 Most Influential Women in the History of Baseball.

Who was the first woman in the National Baseball Hall of Fame?

Effa Manley, born in 1897 in Philadelphia, was an American baseball executive who co-owned the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League alongside her husband, Abe Manley. In 2006, she became the first woman to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

History of Women in Baseball

A large part of the history of women in baseball revolves around their involvement in the Negro Leagues and on amateur teams that toured the country in the middle part of the last century. From owners and executives to actual female baseball players, a number of women have made their marks in different ways. The sport is America’s national pastime, and there are millions of American women who grew up at the ballpark sitting alongside their moms, dads, brothers and sisters eating hot dogs and Cracker Jacks.

What percentage of women work in Major League Baseball?

There is no definitive statistic on this topic, in large part because Major League Baseball teams circle through executives, coaches and broadcasters the same way they circle through minor league prospects. The best data out there is that the Major League Baseball Players Association has a staff that is roughly 30 percent female.

Famous Women in MLB

Currently, the most famous women in baseball are the decision makers who either run teams or are assistant general managers. But history is rife with stories of incredible on-the-field accomplishments by female baseball players, too, and we will not neglect to mention them in this article.

Celebrating 10 Women in MLB history

  1. Rachel Balkovec, manager

Achievements: She became the first manager in an MLB-affiliated organization after being hired to lead the Single-A Tampa Tarpons in 2022. Prior to landing that role, Balkovec was already a rising star in the Yankees organization as the hitting coach for their Florida Complex League team. When she was hired for that position in December of 2019, she became the first full-time female hitting coach in a Major League organization.

  1. Kelsey Whitmore, player

Achievements: She became the first female to join a Major League Baseball affiliated league when she signed with the Staten Island FerryHawks of the Atlantic League on April 8, 2022. Whitmore, who will pitch and be used as a utility player for the FerryHawks, was a part of USA Baseball's women's team, where she held a 1.35 ERA from 2014 to 2019 and helped guide the team to two gold medals in the Pan-American Games.

  1. Sara Goodrum, executive

In January, 2022, Goodrum became the first female hitting coordinator in affiliated Minor League history when the Milwaukee Brewers hired her for that position in 2021. Her role with the Houston Astros was to oversee all player development staff and collaborate with coordinators on the core duties of the recruiting, hiring and development of the player development staff.

  1. Bianca Smith, coach

Achievements: When she was hired by the Boston Red Sox as a Minor League coach on Jan. 4, 2021, it made her the first Black woman to serve as a coach in professional baseball history. A former college softball player with Dartmouth, Smith was previously the assistant coach and hitting coordinator at Carroll University in Wisconsin, a role she held since 2018. Before that, she worked at Case Western Reserve University as director of baseball operations from 2013-17.

  1. Mamie Johnson, player

Achievements: The 5-foot-4 right-hander nicknamed “Peanut,” spent three seasons on the mound for the Indianapolis Clowns from 1953-55. Previously barred from competing in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League due to her race, Johnson made the most of her opportunity in the Negro American League and compiled a 33-8 record on the mound. She was the first female to play in the Negro League.

  1. Lizzie Murphy, player

Achievements: At age 17, she became a professional baseball player when she signed with the Providence Independents. She went on to play for traveling all-star and barnstorming teams, and even played in exhibition games against Major Leaguers, including one against the Red Sox at Fenway Park in 1922.

  1. Effa Manley, owner

Achievements: During her time co-owning the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League along with her husband, Abe, she served as the team's business manager and fulfilled many of her husband's duties as treasurer of the entire league. The Eagles won the championship in 1946, and Manley worked to improve the conditions for the players across the entire league. She advocated better scheduling, pay, and accommodations. Her players traveled in an air-conditioned bus, considered extravagant for the Negro leagues.

  1. Lisa Olson, journalist

Achievements: A baseball Hall of Fame voter, Olson was a trailblazer in women’s sports journalism who alleged being harassed in the New England Patriots locker room and drew the wrath of then-owner Victor Kiam. Olson was the victim of harassment for years afterward and had to move to Australia for a while for her own safety. She later worked for the New York Daily News and was best known for drawing the wrath of pitcher David Wells when she went to his house to seek a comment after the Yankees traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays.

  1. Jackie Mitchell, player

Achievements: In the spring of 1931, the Yankees played an exhibition game against the Chattanooga Lookouts, a Minor League team in the Southern Association. Lookouts owner Joe Engel signed Mitchell, a 17-year-old from Memphis, Tenn., to pitch in the game. Mitchell was a talented all-around athlete who played for an all-girls baseball team and learned a “drop ball” from Hall of Fame pitcher Dazzy Vance, her neighbor. Mitchell came out of the bullpen and with her left-handed sidearm delivery managed to strike out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

  1. Kim Ng, executive

Achievements: In November of 2020, she made history as MLB's first female general manager when she was hired to run the Florida Marlins. Ng came to the Marlins with immense experience in baseball, having worked in front office roles with the White Sox (1990-96), Yankees (1998-2001) and Dodgers (2002-11) -- winning three World Series championships -- before moving on to the Commissioner’s Office, where she had worked since 2011.

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