Siegal Pitched like a Real Roxstar

 

103472_0309_justine_siegal.jpg

TBO.com

             Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection,
                                          The lovers, the dreamers and me.”

                                                                                       -Kermit the Frog

How can you not want to stand up and cheer for someone who quotes the almighty Kermit in their blog post. Come on, he is the quintessential optimist. And to use one of his quote to announce yourself to the MLBlogs public is down right genius in my opinion. But who is this mastermind that not only used our favorite sock puppet as a pawn, but also packs a bit of a wallop herself.

Justine Siegal is pulling off her own version of the American Sports Dream this Spring, by throwing Batting Practice to Major League Baseball teams from Arizona to Florida. In all ( as of 3/18) Justin has pitched to six teams, and I bet there are a few in the wings wanting to also witness this historical baseball moment.


shapeimage_1.jpgBut was the moment any bigger for Siegal who grew up idolizing baseball players and their skills, and now she would have the chance to give back in a unique and special way. Sure there was the Japanese knuckleballer who broke into the minor leagues in 2010, and a few women have thrown against MLB players in the past, but Siegal was a Coach for the Brockton Rox, who once had Ranger OF Josh Hamilton on their roster.

She came with intensity, she came with pride, she came with a pretty wicked pitching arsenal. Here was a woman who had a college Coaching pedigree at Springfield College, had professional Coaching experience, and is now throwing for the pure joy of it to MLB caliber hitters. All while her young daughter Jasmine got to watch her mother perform baseball history with each flick of the wrist.

Here she was on March 10, 2011 throwing in the Port Charlotte complex of the Tampa Bay Rays, and growing a crowd with every crack of the bat. With every pitch, every grunt and sweat bead, the slogan of “Baseball for All” on Jasmine’s baseball jersey was singing like a choir of angels to the assembled ballplayers who all possibly had female teammates on their Little League teams.

Justine_Siegal_pitc_778859e.jpgBut today, Siegal was on that mound behind that pitching fencing throwing for each and everyone of them that either switched to softball, or somehow lost the dream. of playing ball. And Siegal didn’t just go up there and lay in pitches, she had a few get away from her, made a few nifty dippity-doo’s, but also had a smile on her face the entire time.

Funny how a chance conversation with Rays Manager Joe Maddon in the lobby of the Walt Disney Swan & Dolphin Resort during the 2010 MLB Winter Meetings had escalated to this time on the mound. Maddon was leaning against the fence talking to the usual media assembly as Justine took the mound and began her day’s work.

And the crowd quickly thickened on the sidelines as the Toronto Blue Jays had taken the field warming-up and getting ready for their chance in the cages. Her first throw into the cage was a strike. She was feeling it, into the moment, about to show that this Coach, pitcher and Mom could compete. That she could “bring it”. That she belonged in this game.

Even after a few solid thumps off her pitching, Siegal got into a rhythm and started to put the ball in there with a nice velocity, a great rolling ease and got into her own sense of a musical cadence.

064e7fc9cbdfbe44feaeaba67bbf8bee-getty-109314852nh004_cleveland_in.jpgBut little did Siegal know that one that cold December day she had bent the ear of the one person within Major League Baseball who loves who loves to champion the inspirational people of this game. Little did she know that she hitched her star to the right man, the right motivator and someone who wanted her to have success.

I sat there in the stand watching her throw pitch after pitch and never got up from my seat once. She seriously had talent and a great ability to guess the exact location for the Rays players taking their BP against her. One player (he will remain nameless) even swung and missed at a beautiful breaking pitch and he got a instant catcall from the assembled players watching.

But Siegal did herself and every female who ever imagines throwing on playing between those fine white lines a great service. She showed that the fairer sex is not always demure and fragile, but can have the heart of a champion and want dreams and aspirations for herself and her young daughter.

Talked to a member of the Rays field staff after she left the field and he remarked that she had a great session. One he will always remember. Not because she was a woman, and not because she was a special invitee to do the honors, but because she had the stamina and ability to provide quality BP to a MLB squad.


Thumbnail image for 539w.jpgI think Justine seriously just had me when she came out on the field at the beginning of B P with her hair tucked into a ponytail and wearing that Rays number “15” jersey. She owned that assembled crowd that day. She threw an amazing BP session, and she showed that she belongs…..quite an accomplishment that started in a place that Walt Disney called the “Happiest Place on Earth”.

Sorry to disagree with Walt, but Justin Siegal just seemed in harmony at that moment standing on that raised pile of clay throwing the ball like she always knew she could, to MLB caliber players….That seemed to be the “Happiest place on Earth” for her on that given day.

8 Comments

It’s definitely a good story. I tip my cap.
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

Jeff,
Thanks for that cap tip. There was a message and a reasoning for Siegal to throw that day, and it came out loud and clear. I still remember the first time a girl played on my baseball team. It was a bit ackward for me, but I adjusted. I can see Justine as a minor league Manager or Coach throwing BP or even advising players during a season. Women understand this game very well, and Seigal could just be the woman to throw open the door of opportunity.

Rays Renegade

Hooray for Justine! She did us females proud!

http://www.janeheller.com/confessionsblog

Jane,
She really did.
Got to admit I was not expecting much to begin with, but got pleasantly surprised. But then I like to see people get a chance, an opportunity to show their goods and then let the Baseball Gods sort it all out.
Siegal has the talent and the skill to Coach. That is a bit of a “givin'” here. The real question is if anyone within MLB will give her a shot to succeed at the next level…the minor leagues.
Got a weird feeling that if she does make it, then one of these teams she has thrown for will pen the door for her….I hope it is the Rays and she gets her shoe with the Bowling Green Hot Rods.

Rays Renegade

Absolutely beautiful story!

—Mark Gauthier

http://cubden.mlblogs.com/

Mark,
It was actually fun watching her throw BP. Most of the time I am running around just trying to check up on things during that time, but nI knew today was going to be special.
I just didn’t know how much.
The story is not beuatiful, her life is…..Justin just rocked it.

Rays Renegade

Great story, while not quite on the same level as Jackie Robinson, I see this as a big step forward to opening some doors for other females.

http://bluejaysnest.mlblogs.com/

Norm,
It is an attempt by someone qualified to thrust through the male dominated MLB world. That is was is so inspiring to me.Justin Siegal could be that pioneer that makes the first step. Sure it is not even in the same realm as Jackie Robinson, but considering it has been attempted in the player side of the game and not coaching before….Siegal has the merits and experience to be considered.
That by itself is a major accomplishmwnt all by itself.

Rays Renegade

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