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Woman Pitches Scoreless Relief for Double-A Team

June 5, 1996

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Pamela Davis, with fans chanting her name and forcing her to take a curtain call, pitched one inning of scoreless relief 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 just want to be an inspiration to 8- and 9-year-old girls that if this is their dream, they should follow it,″ Davis said before the game.

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, but retired the next three batters on a sharp grounder to second, a strikeout and a lazy grounder to second.

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 was replaced in the sixth. She came out for a curtain call.

Davis, a 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!‴

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