Little Girls and Baseball, and Also: You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me

Tuesday March 1, 2016

Do you know how many picture books have been published about a little girl playing baseball? Not a biography, not an animal, just a fictional story about a human girl child, playing baseball?

One. After over an hour of online searching yesterday, I found one. One.

Do you know how many books have been published about a little girl going to a professional baseball game?

Also one. One book. In the entire field of books involving parents taking their children to baseball games. One of them involves a female child.

I thought perhaps I was searching for the wrong thing. I suppose older girls play softball rather than baseball, right?

Do you know how many books intended for little girls have been published about softball?

None. Not one book.

Let me back up and say that Amazon has a picture book category called “Children’s Baseball Books.” They list 595 books for ages 3-5. ONE of those books is a fictional book about a girl playing baseball. Another one of those books is about a girl going to a baseball game. That leaves 593 books.

What the hell.

Yesterday, at the SF Library, I asked a librarian for help. Clearly I wasn’t doing this right. But, no, she didn’t have any more luck than I did.

Have you ever peered through the children’s book section of Amazon or Barnes and Noble or your local massive city library? There are books about everything. Children’s books are used by everyone as a tool to explain the world, and its complications and permutations to children. There are picture books about disabilities, injuries, death, and abuse. You’ll find books about different types of families — households with two mommies or two daddies, one mommy, one daddy, or maybe no mommy or daddy but a grandma and/or grandpa. The topics that children’s books discuss are wide-ranging.

How has a girl playing baseball been nearly omitted entirely from the universe of picture book publishing?

Bean has recently picked up an interest in baseball, already having worked her way through soccer and ballet. I naively thought it’d be fun to read some books about baseball, preferably with a female character. I grew up playing impromptu baseball games in the neighborhood, playing in gym class. Playing baseball was never a big deal, it was something all kids did. It wholly did not occur to me, knowing how many children’s books exist in the world covering the topics they do, knowing how many books there are about baseball, knowing this was 25 years after I was a kid, that we wouldn’t be able to find one.

Now, I did also find four biographies of female baseball players (think “A League of Their Own”) and one book about a female cow playing baseball on Amazon. Luckily, SF Main Library had those books, which we took out yesterday.

The women’s stories in the biographies are all incredibly powerful. Truly strong and smart women fighting for their right to belong in baseball, and I will happily and proudly teach Bean about them some day. I don’t feel that three years old is the right time, however; I’m worried about messages getting muddled in a preschooler’s brain. I don’t want to introduce the concept that a girl playing baseball is weird, or out of the norm. Because it is neither.

As one book begins, “Katie Casey wasn’t good at being a girl…” This is a complicated message and beginning to a children’s book. I don’t want my daughter thinking she has to choose between wanting to play baseball, an entirely normal girl activity, and being a “girl.” Whatever it means to be a “girl.”

In each of the books, and I’m sure this is historically accurate, the young girl who wants to play baseball is told repeatedly –by mothers, fathers, teachers– not to play baseball.

Keep in mind, these are the only books we could find at the library about human girls playing baseball (and only one other book exists about a human girl playing baseball). The only books we could find involving girls playing baseball have the repeated message that parents do not want you playing baseball.

Which left me with the cow. At least I’d get to read the female pronoun out loud, right?

The book is about a cow who pines to play for her favorite baseball team. A pig helps her practice, but it’s clear he’s terrible at baseball and can’t help. She builds him a grandstand instead, so he can watch. Then she finds a human boy to play baseball with her. He’s so good, a scout comes from the team to recruit him. But, oh no! He can’t play well without his favorite cow. She is ushered up, as a personal coach, to help the boy play better. In an emergency, she pinch hits for him and hits a home run. The home run is allowed, since we don’t discriminate against species or gender. She then boards a bus back to the farm, telling the boy he no longer needs her, and maybe one day she’ll coach someone else who will play professional baseball again.

So, yes, the only fictional book I could find about a female anything playing baseball, is the story of a female cow helping boys learn how to play baseball.

What. The. Hell.

After I finished reading, Bean scrunched her face and asked, “why did she have to go back to the farm?” Great question.

My goal was to normalize girls playing baseball. If anything, these books exceptionalized it.

For now, I’m going to tell the SF Library about Heather Hits Her First Home Run and Mom’s Big Catch and hope that some day in the future, we’ll be able to sit down and read just an ordinary book, about an ordinary girl, playing baseball.



Here’s my complete list of female characters playing baseball. If you know of any others, please PLEASE write and tell me. I’d love to include it.


The two books I found on Amazon, that involve human girls:

Heather Hits Her First Home Run by Ted Plantos

Mom’s Big Catch by Marla McKenna


The biographies:

Players in Pigtails by Shana Corey

She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Book by Audrey Vernick

Catching the Moon: A Story of a Young Girl’s Baseball Dream by Crystal Hubbard

Queen of the Diamond: The Lizzie Murphy Story by Emily Arnold McCully


And the cow:

Clorinda Plays Baseball by Robert Kinerk




4 Responses to “Little Girls and Baseball, and Also: You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me”

  1. Hey! A delightful one my littles like is “Joy in Mudville”, a riff on the “Casey at Bat” starring a pitcher named Joy. She endures a fair amount of teasing, but overcomes it by drawing on her unique strengths.


    3/4/2016 at 7:51 am

  2. Thank you!! I saw Joy in Mudville but thought it was about a boy named Casey. Thanks for the heads up!


    3/4/2016 at 7:54 am

  3. Does a book with a female character who UMPIRES baseball count? If so, there’s a marvelous one about an amazing and inspiring woman named Amanda Clement titled: “Umpire in a Skirt: The Amanda Clement Story” by Marilyn Kratz, with illustrations by Hector Curriel. It’s available on


    3/5/2016 at 1:34 pm

  4. Umpires count! Thanks for the recommendation!! It looks a little outside Bean’s age range (she’s only 3) but the story looks incredible! I’ll add it to the list.


    3/5/2016 at 1:39 pm