An important portion of sports history is dedicated to players who break barriers and open opportunities for others. This is why Jackie Robinson, who famously broke Major League Baseball’s race barrier in emphatic fashion, is one of American sports’ most towering figures. Now, gender barriers may be next in line. The tale of baseball phenom Mo’Ne Davis suggests that women may be able to make an impact in competitive baseball sooner than expected!
Mo’Ne Davis is dominating in Little League Baseball play, and she is breaking all sorts of records and precedents in doing so. That’s right, girls do play Little League Baseball, and Davis is showing that they can do so at an elite level. She has also received a major honor that has never before been awarded to a Little Leaguer, male or female—she has been featured on the cover and cover story of famed sports magazine Sports Illustrated!
Davis, at the young age of 13, is only the 18th girl to have played in the Little League World Series, a sporting event with 68 years of history behind it. But her latest accomplishment, throwing a shutout, has made her the talk of the sports world. Never before had a female pitcher thrown shutout in the LLWS, and Davis’ performance was no fluke. Her fastballs reached upwards of 70 miles per hour—an excellent clip for any 13-year-old—and she allowed only two hits in the game.
Mo’Ne Davis is taking her sudden rise to fame in stride, but she is not backing down from the challenges of a high profile. Shortly after her shutout made headlines, Davis challenged L.A. Dodgers All-Star pitcher Clayton Kershaw to a pitching duel. Kershaw accepted, and the two will square off next week! Even the National Basketball Association’s reigning Most Valuable Player, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant, was wowed by Davis’ performance. “This youngster is striking everybody out and she is a girl,” Durant noted. “I love it.”
Davis has remained humble in the past week. She has waited around after practices for her team, the Taney Dragons of Philadelphia, to autograph T-shirts and baseball for large groups of fans. Experts have marveled at the level of fame she has attained: “She’s the most talked-about baseball player on Earth right now,” said George Washington University assistant professor of sports management Mark Hyman. “More people are talking about her than Derek Jeter. That’s a lot for a thirteen-year-old kid.”
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