Kelsie Whitmore Making History

NEW YORK — Kelsie Whitmore already has a daily routine figured out: wake up, hit the gym and head to the ballpark. Then, throw with the pitchers, take swings in the cages or batting practice on the field and catch live reads in the outfield. Recovery comes next, and if there’s time, a second round of workouts in the team gym.

And once all of that is complete, there’s still a game to be played.

It’s an intense regimen, but that’s what it takes for a player trying to prove that they belong in organized baseball. Especially when your path toward that goal is as unprecedented as it comes.

On April 8, Whitmore signed a contract with the Staten Island FerryHawks of the Atlantic League, becoming the first woman to join a league affiliated with Major League Baseball; the independent Atlantic League was named MLB’s first Partner League in September 2020. While it wasn’t the 23-year-old’s first foray into professional baseball — the San Diego native played for the Sonoma Stompers of the independent Pacific Association in 2016 and ’17 — given the Atlantic League’s reputation as the highest level of the sport outside the Majors or Minors, it was certainly her most high-profile venture yet.

So much so that she received a personal letter of congratulations from MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who wrote, “I have followed your playing career with great enthusiasm, and very much appreciate your significant contributions to the USA Women’s National baseball team …” and called her “an inspiration to baseball fans everywhere, and especially to girls who dream of playing professional baseball.”

A two-way player who made a name for herself on the U.S. women’s national baseball team from 2014-19 — winning a gold medal in the ’15 Pan American Games and a silver medal in the ’14 Women’s Baseball World Cup — Whitmore has appeared in left field and as a reliever for Staten Island in a season that’s only about a month old. And she has made a lot of Atlantic League history along the way, debuting as a pinch-runner in the first game of the FerryHawks’ inaugural season on April 21, becoming the first woman to start a game on May 1 and becoming the first woman to take the mound on May 4.

But for Whitmore, the journey has only just begun.

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