To many people, it may look like just another child’s baseball game in the United States. But the Little League World Series is more than that. It is the largest competition, for the best, the most dedicated and the most disciplined of the world’s young baseball players.
This year, there is a player getting special attention for throwing the ball very fast. But this player is getting even more attention because, in a game mainly played by boys, she is a girl.
"You Throw Like A Girl"
A common insult to a boy is to tell them they throw like a girl. But, those days may be over -- especially when you see Mo’ne Davis throw a baseball.
The 13-year old baseball player is making history at this year’s Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. This is not only because she is one of the few girls to have made it this far, but because she is such a good player.
Mo’ne Davis is currently one of the most talked about athletes in the U.S.
She has been on the front page of her hometown paper, The Philadelphia Inquirer. TV ratings of her games are the highest ever on the sports network ESPN for Little League baseball. And she will be the first Little League player ever to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine in late August.
Why all the attention?
Mo’ne Davis is not the first girl to play Little League baseball. Kathryn Johnston Massar was.
Back in 1950, Kathryn Johnston Massar cut her hair, called herself “Tubby”, and joined a Little League baseball team in the city of Corning, New York. When it was discovered that she was a girl, the league created a rule banning girls from playing. The “Tubby rule,” as it was known, would stand for 24 years.
Baseball is mainly a boys sport, but Mo’ne Davis is outstanding at it. She plays on the U.S. Mid-Atlantic Regional team called the Taney Dragons. They are a group of kids from the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The city is known for its working-class culture and for its love of sports. Philadelphia is where the legend of the boxer “Rocky” was born.
The Taney Dragons made it to the World Series after Mo’ne Davis pitched a shutout game in a regional championship game.
In baseball, a “shutout” is a game in which the pitcher does not let the other team score. Without scoring, you cannot win a baseball game. And that is how her team made it to the World Series – no one could hit Mo’ne’s pitches.
It is reported that she can throw the ball over 100 kilometers an hour. She is the first girl to have pitched a shutout in the Little League World Series tournament.
Dawn Staley is also a Philadelphia native and a basketball player who won three gold medals in the Olympics. Staley says Mo’ne represents an important sports message.
“It’s just a baseball,” Ms. Staley says. “We need to really look at it like that. It’s just a baseball. Anybody who picks up a ball is just playing.”
Ms. Staley says that the Little League World Series gave Mo’ne a huge opportunity to show her baseball abilities. She reminds us that there are many girls playing just as well but who have not had this much attention. She calls them “diamonds in the rough,” or unpolished diamonds.
“It’s Not Just About Me.”
Mo’ne Davis is not just a good player. She is a good teammate. She is quick to point out that it takes a team to win a baseball game.
One reporter from The Inquirer asked Davis, “What would you like the public to know about your teammates?”
Mo'ne smiled and said, "These guys should be interviewed more. It's not just about me. It's about the whole team. And without them, we wouldn't be here right now."
I’m Anna Matteo.
Words in the News(These words may have other meanings, but this is how they used in the game of baseball.)
pitcher – n. the player who throws the ball in a game of baseball
shutout - n. a game or contest in which one side does not score
mound - n. the slightly raised area of ground, in baseball it's where the pitcher stands
curveball – n. a pitch that is thrown with spin so that the ball curves in the air
slider – n. a fast pitch that curves slightly in the air