SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Recreation & Park Department proudly kicked off the national Baseball for All girls youth tournament at Kezar Stadium today. The opening ceremonies, which began with a team parade, flag presentation, national anthem, brief remarks and a ceremonial first pitch, marked the beginning of a weeklong baseball tournament involving 20 teams and more than 200 players from around the country, including the hometown San Francisco Bay Sox.
“San Francisco is nationally recognized as a leader in equality for women and girls, and our City is a baseball town that is home to the World Series champion San Francisco Giants,” said Mayor Ed Lee. “That’s why we are the perfect City to host a national baseball championship that encourages young women and girls to foster teamwork, sportsmanship and friendship—qualities that will empower them to succeed both on and off the field.”
This is Baseball for All’s second annual tournament and the U.S.’s only all-girls national baseball tournament. The event empowers girls to believe in themselves and encourages them to continue playing baseball, which has historically been played predominantly by boys.
“We need to continue to empower young girls to break down the walls and reach for the stars,” said Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu, who threw out the first pitch. “Supporting young women through organizations like Baseball for All is incredibly important because how can any girl hit a home run if she is not given an opportunity to play in the field.”
Beginning Sunday, the girls will compete in five age groups: tee-ball, 8u, 10u, 13u, and 16u. All tournament games will be played on the ball fields at Moscone Rec Center. As part of the week’s festivities, players will also attend A’s and Giants games as well as a tour of AT&T Park and the opportunity to meet women who work for the San Francisco Giants. The girls will speak with professional umpires as well as ball players from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.
Justine Siegal, the founder and director of Baseball for All, has spent nearly two decades fighting for gender equity in baseball. She addressed the crowd and spoke of her experience as the first female coach in Major League Baseball. Siegal was hired by the Oakland A’s in 2015.
“Many girls are told they can’t play baseball because they are girls. I worry if you tell a girl she can’t play baseball what else will she think she can’t do,” Siegal said. “Here in San Francisco we are empowering these girls to be who they want to be and to follow their baseball dreams.”
Bay Sox coach and co-organizer Rachelle Henley was an original member of the semi-pro women’s Colorado Silver Bullets team in the mid-1990s. She now brings that awareness and legacy as an employee of the Recreation & Park Department, which provides a wide range of girls sports programs and clinics, including basketball, golf, volleyball, soccer, softball, baseball and more.
“As the father of two daughters, I’m proud of the work we do at Rec & Park each day to ensure that girls have the same recreational opportunities as boys,” said Phil Ginsburg, SF Rec & Park General Manager. “The lessons the players learn today about their potential and their capabilities will serve them well in baseball and in life.”
The 20 teams participating in the tournament hail from cities across the country and beyond, including teams from Hawaii and Washington, D.C., and Canada.
About Baseball For All
Baseball For All is a 510(c)3 and the voice and hub of girls and baseball in the United States. Baseball For All fosters, encourages, and provides opportunities for girls to participate in baseball. Baseball For All’s Founder, Justine Siegal, is the first woman to coach for a MLB organization (Oakland Athletics, 2015). More information on Baseball For All and 2016 Nationals can be found at: www.BaseballForAll.com.