BREAKING BARRIERS: Who is Claire Eccles and how is she making history?

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The existing atmosphere of Major League Baseball requires a certain type of person for a player to be successful, and that doesn’t just apply to gender.

Let’s talk about tradition for a moment. When it comes to baseball, there are definitely some ingrained traditions, many of which are considered to be archaic. While many of them are set in stone, there are others that can be corrected over time. Let’s take a look at Claire Eccles, a 19-year-old who played baseball for most of her life, but seemed to have settle for working in a Greek-Italian restaurant in Surry.

There was no doubt that she loved baseball, but she had resigned to give it a break, at least until she could get her future in hand. Well, sometimes fate has different plans, especially when it comes to baseball. She received a call from Brad Norris-Jones, the general manager of the Victoria HarbourCats, and received news that she had never expected. Norris-Jones had heard great things about her and wanted to ‘speak’ to her.

AN UNPRECEDENTED OPPORTUNITY

The existing atmosphere of Major League Baseball requires a certain type of person for a player to be successful, and that doesn’t just apply to gender. Prospective players need athletic ability, they need the right demeanor, and most importantly, they need the resolve to push through – it’s not an easy path, and the major leagues are no joke.

Norris-Jones and Eccles discussed the difficulties of putting a woman on a major league field, but after a single phone call, the decision had been made: they were moving forward with it. Norris-Jones stated that the effort to add a female baseball player to the HarbourCats was a product of their ‘forward-thinking legacy’, and this isn’t entirely unprecedented. As a matter of fact, they were the first team in their league to bring on a female general manager. They have also hired several other women, including Brittany French, their assistant general manager.

AN OPPORTUNITY TO INSPIRE

Eccles is incredibly happy to be afforded the opportunity to play ball beyond her high school years, but she also recognizes that this is an opportunity to inspire women and young girls alike. She claims that she has received a number of supportive tweets from major league players, but she also received quite a few from young girls and their parents who felt absolutely inspired by her success.

Eccles recounts hearing time and again from her parents, and those around her, that ‘girls can’t play in the major leagues’, and her upset over this revelation was undoubtedly echoed by many young women across the country who strove to build their lives on this amazing game. Today, however, the game has changed, and now, women might just find their place on the mount. While female pitchers have been in existence for some time, this is an entirely new ball game, and she holds the weight of history on her shoulders. There will be plenty of critics, but the end result will be worth it.

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