Woman Pitches Scoreless Relief for Double-A Team
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Pamela Davis, with fans chanting her name and forcing her to take a curtain call, pitched one inning of scoreless relief and got the win Tuesday night in a minor league exhibition game.
She is believed to be the first woman to pitch for a major league farm club under the current structure of the minor league system.
Davis, a 21-year-old starter with the Colorado Silver Bullets women’s baseball team, pitched for the Jacksonville Suns, a Double-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, against the Australian Olympic team.
``I don’t know what doors it will open for women in professional baseball,″ Davis said. ``I hope something will open.″
Davis entered in the top of the fifth with the Suns leading 6-0. She allowed a leadoff double off the left-field wall to Peter Vogler, who advanced to third when she got Richard Vagg to ground sharply to second on the first pitch.
She struck out Michael Dunn on a fastball down and away after setting him up with two sliders, then got Jason Hewitt on a weak grounder to second.
``It was the longest walk I’ve had back to the dugout in a long time,″ Dunn said.
Fans behind Jacksonville’s dugout stood as she sprinted off the field, and she was greeted by high-fives in the dugout. The crowd chanted ``We Want Pam″ when she manager Bill Plummer replaced her in the sixth with Romulo Martinez.
She came out for a curtain call and another loud cheer.
``It was awesome,″ she said, her feet bouncing excitedly as she spoke. ``I can’t even explain the feeling. I wanted to throw another inning but he said, `You’re done.′ I said all right. I can’t be greedy. I got one.″
``She did an outstanding job and it was nice to see her get the win,″ Plummer said. ``She got a good strikeout with a guy on third. She probably wanted to go more, but everything worked out really well. She should be real happy with herself.″
The Suns won 7-2. The Australian team had beaten the Silver Bullets 19-0 Monday night in Melbourne, Fla., and center fielder Grant MacDonald said he was disappointed to hear the crowd boo the Silver Bullets.
``For a girl to come out and play pro baseball, I think that’s pretty special,″ he said.
Davis, a 5-foot-6, 135-pound right-hander with a fastball approaching 80 mph, was playing as part of an agreement between the Southern League and Silver Bullets.
The Southern League had billed it as the first time a woman has pitched for a sanctioned men’s professional team. But according to the Elias Sports Bureau and Howe Sports Service, other women have pitched in the minors.
The most notable was in 1931, when Jackie Mitchell pitched for the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Southern Association. In an exhibition against the New York Yankees, she struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
Breaking barriers is nothing new to Davis. She was the first girl to pitch in the Junior League World Series in 1988, leading a U.S. team from Orlando to a 7-3 victory over Canada.
She also played on the baseball team at Lake Mary High School near Orlando before playing softball at the University of South Florida.
She joined the Silver Bullets this year and rose to the top of the starting rotation with a 2-2 record and 1.88 ERA.
Several of her Silver Bullets teammates came to watch her pitch. They leaned over the dugout railing before the game, coercing Davis _ called ``Pup″ because of her age _ into coming over for a group picture.
``I think this is incredible. It’s a memorable moment for women’s baseball,″ said Alyson Habetz, a pitcher for the Silver Bullets. ``We’re proud of Pup. She’s getting an opportunity and setting an example for all women that it’s OK to dream this dream.″
Despite the hype, the attendance was sparse. Lydia Manns came with her husband and two daughters, including 6-year-old Joelle.
``She’s been doing the tomahawk chop at Braves games since she was 2. She’s been bugging me to play baseball,″ Manns said of her youngest daughter. ``I told her a girl was going to pitching for the Suns tonight and she said, `Cool!‴
Next up for Davis are interviews Wednesday on ``Good Morning America″ and ``CNN.″ An appearance with David Letterman is tentatively scheduled for Thursday night.
She will also go back to the Silver Bullets. She’s not sure what she proved by playing in the minors, but she’s certain of one thing.
``I pitched,″ she said. ``It was my dream to do that.″