Kelsie Whitmore

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Kelsie Ann-Gamboa Whitmore

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Biographical Information[edit]

Kelsie Whitmore was one of the first women to play pro baseball in a US men's league.

Whitmore played golf, soccer and baseball in high school. [1] In the 2014 Women's Baseball World Cup, she made her debut; in 10 games for Team USA that summer (not just counting the World Cup), she only had 4 at-bats but stole 5 bases in 5 tries. [2] The US won Silver at the 2014 Women's Baseball World Cup. Women's baseball was played in the Pan American Games for the first time in 2015 and Whitmore was a key member of the US team the same month she turned age 17. She blanked Cuba on a three-hit gem. She was not as sharp in a key appearance against Canada. Relieving Marti Sementelli with a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the 7th, she allowed hits to Ashley Stephenson and Nicole Luchanski sandwiched by a walk to Kate Psota, making it 3-1; Sarah Hudek relieved and stopped the rally. She finished 1-0 with a 1.40 ERA; she also scored one run and drew a walk but did not get an at-bat. The US won the Gold. She tied Elizabeth Santana for 4th in the event in ERA. [3]

Whitmore and fellow US national team player Stacy Piagno were signed by the independent Sonoma Stompers for 2016. It was the first time since the dying days of the Negro Leagues (in that case, Connie Morgan and Peanut Johnson) that two women would play in the same men's league at the same time. [4] She was 1 for 13 with a walk, run, RBI and 8 strikeouts for the '16 Stompers and pitched one game, taking the loss (2 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 3 BB). Her hit came off Patrick Conroy. [5] In the 2016 Women's Baseball World Cup, she did not fare as well as her less-famous teammates, going 1 for 9 with two walks on offense. On the mound, she allowed three unearned runs in two innings and lost to Australia. [6]

She played softball for Cal State Fullerton in 2016-2017, mostly as a pinch-runner (1 for 12, 2 BB, 10 R, 7 SB, 2 CS). [7] She also played baseball for the Stompers again, as did Piagno (who had a solid season on the hill). She again had only one hit in 13 at-bats; she scored once, drew 3 walks and struck out 9 times. She pitched one inning, allowing one run on two hits. She did better in the 2018 Women's Baseball World Cup than two years prior, scoring 3 runs against the Netherlands and beating both the South Korean women's national team (1 R in 4 IP) and the Dominican Republic (1 UER in 4 IP; Emily Tsujikawa saved it). Her 0.88 ERA tied Sinead Flanigan for 6th in the event (Piagno was one of those with a lower mark) and she hit .167/.333/.167 with 4 runs in 6 games. [8] After the Coronavirus pandemic cut short her senior season, she was allowed to return for a fifth season in 2021 and took full advantage of the opportunity, being named the Big West Conference Player of the Year, setting a school record with an 18-game hitting streak.

Kelsie broke more ground in 2022 when she signed with the Staten Island FerryHawks of the Atlantic League. While there had been a number of women who had played in the independent leagues, the Atlantic Leagues was now an official partner league of Major League Baseball, making her the first woman to sign with a team in Organized Baseball. On May 1st, after making her debut as a pinch-runner on Opening Day, April 21st, she became the first woman to start a game in the circuit, playing left field and batting 9th for the Ferryhawks against the Gastonia Honey Hunters and going 0 for 2. She was listed as a two-way player, allowing her to eventually pitch and also serve as her team's DH in the same game, as the Atlantic League had adopted the "Shohei Ohtani Rule" introduced by Major League Baseball that same year. She made more history on May 4th, when she appeared as a pitcher for the first time, coming in the 9th inning against the Lexington Legends with the based loaded in the 9th, getting former major leaguer Ryan Jackson to fly out to end the inning. She was the first woman pitcher in league history. After her historic beginnnings, she received a personalized letter from none other than MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred who said he was following her career closely and called her "an inspiration to baseball fans everywhere, and especially to girls who dream of playing professional baseball."

Sources[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Betelhem Ashame: "Her baseball journey has just begun. Stay tuned", mlb.com, May 19, 2022. [1]
  • Brian Murphy: "'I'm ready': Kelsie Whitmore to play for FerryHawks: Team USA product signs with Staten Island in historic moment for women in baseball", mlb.com, April 8, 2022. [2]
  • Manny Randhawa: "Kelsie Whitmore breaks new ground in FerryHawks' starting lineup: Two-way player becomes first woman to start an Atlantic League game", mlb.com, May 1, 2022. [3]
  • Manny Randhawa: "Kelsie Whitmore makes history pitching for FerryHawks", mlb.com, May 4, 2022. [4]

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