Major League Baseball’s first girls baseball tournament is this weekend in Southern California, and Jennie Finch can’t wait to get there.
Finch, MLB’s softball ambassador, will among the notable attendees to help lead the roughly 100 players from 20 states; Washington, D.C.; and Canada at the MLB Youth Academy in Compton. Teams are in the 12U and 16U divisions.
The inaugural “Trailblazer Series” baseball tournament is being held in conjunction with MLB’s recognition of Jackie Robinson Day.
Trailblazer Series coaches include top coaches and players in women’s baseball, including some members from the U.S. National Team, and the teams are named for alumnae of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League from the 1940s and ‘50s. Shirley “Hustle” Burkovich, who played from 1949 to 1951, and Maybelle “Mae” Blair, who played in 1948, will throw out first pitches during the event, according to a news release.
“I couldn’t imagine being a young baseball player and coming into Southern California to see all the history and to be among the trailblazers,” Finch said. “I’m a grown woman and I’m excited for what these young girls will experience, to be able to be coached and surrounded by great players and coaches.”
Although Finch is noted for softball and this is a baseball event, she sees the obvious connection with the intent of helping young girls at its heart and also encouraging physical activity for kids.
“I’m excited for this stage,” Finch said. “This is a long time coming. It’s a wonderful opportunity for girls who dream of playing baseball. By bringing players in from all over the country, they get the chance to share their dream. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of this event and show that young girls do matter.”
MLB has announced that USA Baseball’s member organizations, which run leagues around the world, also have reaffirmed their commitment to provide girls the opportunity to participate in their baseball leagues. Among those groups are American League, Babe Ruth League, Little League International, PONY and the National Federation of High Schools.
Finch, who is from Southern California, said she grew up in a family that bled Dodger Blue. She said her family shared season tickets with her mother’s co-workers and her mom would bring a radio to listen to Vin Scully. That makes the connection to Robinson even deeper, given her love and understanding of the Dodgers franchise.
Event participants will attend Jackie Robinson Day at Dodger Stadium on Sunday.
“What better surrounding than putting it around Jackie Robinson Day? He’s a trailblazer in his message that you can do anything,” she said. “This is a great collaboration and I’m looking forward to getting out there, watching these girls play baseball and encouraging them. I’m hoping to share some insights and learning more myself. This really provides an incredible opportunity for a great weekend around the diamond.”