There wasn’t any discussion a year ago when Jason Klein, a dad in Mount Kisco, N.Y., signed up his daughter Ava for Little League baseball.
Jason decided in February that he would sign up Ava, 7, for another season of baseball, and coach again. The league is great for little kids, he said. Everyone bats each inning; no one makes an out. When the last batter in the order comes up, base runners whirl around until the ball is under control. The parents are supportive.
But regarding this year, Ava paused.
“Isn’t baseball really for boys?” she asked.
Absolutely not, Jason told her. And to reassure her, he asked the Internet for help.
He tweeted as much, and asked for retweets and favorites to show Ava she wasn’t alone.
RT to show my daughter she's not alone. She doesn't think she can play little league with boys this year. I told her baseball is DEFINITELY a sport for girls too. She's skeptical & I want to show her how many people agree with me. Thank you!— Jason Klein (@ByJasonKlein) March 2, 2018
The response has been overwhelming. The message racked up a few thousand impressions in the first couple hours, then drew support from ESPN MLB broadcaster and Olympic softball gold and silver medalist Jessica Mendoza.
“The fact that she covers a national game every week is incredible, and I know the heat she’s taken for it,” Jason said of Mendoza in a phone interview. “She’s an inspiration.”
Major League Baseball and Little League International offered pledges of support, too. Mo’ne Davis, who dazzled the 2014 Little League World Series, backed up Ava, as well.
“In our lifetime, she’s probably the face of little girls playing baseball,” Jason said of Davis.
We agree! Baseball is for everyone. 🙌— MLB (@MLB) March 3, 2018
We couldn't agree more Jessica! Tell your daughter we'd love to have her, and any girl, playing Little League Baseball this year, @ByJasonKlein.— Little League (@LittleLeague) March 2, 2018
I definitely think she can hang with them and be better than them🤷🏽♀️ That’s coming from a girl who has done it before pic.twitter.com/mOC7ZtCaNQ— Mo'ne Davis (@Monee__11) March 3, 2018
The numbers on youth sports participation back up all of Ava’s supporters. Roughly 100,000 girls play youth baseball each year, according to nonprofit Baseball for All, but only about 1,000 play high school baseball.
The MLB and its players’ union committed $30 million in January to boost baseball and softball participation nationwide.
Jason showed Ava the support he’d gauged earlier this week. She doesn’t quite understand Twitter, Jason said (remember, she’s 7), but she knows the big numbers next to the button that looks like a heart mean people agree with her dad. So she agreed to sign up for another season of baseball this spring.
“I’m glad she wants to give baseball a shot,” Jason said, “and we’ll let her stick with it as long as she wants to.”
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