On a warm summer night in Melbourne, Australia — when, at least, this part of the world was still sleeping — baseball history was made: Genevieve Beacom became the first woman to pitch professionally in Australia.
Little by little, as minutes and hours ticked by on Jan. 8, there was an outpouring of joy from all corners of the globe.
Fans and friends shouted out the fact that they always knew:
Legendary MLB columnists started making MLB comparisons:
Beacom? As cool as can be.
“I don’t know, I had so much adrenaline and emotion that I really couldn’t gauge how big it would be or the reaction I would get from it,” Beacom told me in a recent call. “I was focusing on the game like any other game I played. I was just locked in.”
The lefty pitched a scoreless sixth inning — showing off a slight smile, a Bugs Bunny curve and a mid-80’s fastball.
The 6-foot-2, 17-year-old was fully-prepared for her debut, and, well, of course she was.
Like every other baseball-loving kid, Beacom had been playing the sport her entire life — picking it up from her older brother, Sam, who said, “it got boring for her to watch, so she decided to play herself.”
She started in tee-ball and first took the mound when she was around 10 or 11 years old, playing almost exclusively among other boys.
“Yeah, it was just boys,” Beacom said. “Always with the guys, so I’m pretty much used to it. I really haven’t known anything different. … They’ve always respected me as a baseball player. I’ve never had any difficulties playing with boys at all.”
And she impressed even way back then as a middle-schooler. Here’s a clip from a local Australian news outlet talking about her skills. You can see her blowing a fastball by a boy and talking about how much fun she has pitching.
Beacom continued to impress at every level she played: She became the first female athlete to be named to the Baseball Victoria U-16 squad to represent Victoria in 2018, she recorded a 0.00 ERA in a season with the youth level Sandringham Royals and, in one Little League game, she struck out 14 batters in just five innings.
But Beacom said her biggest accomplishment in her pre-teen years was representing Australia as the country’s very first girl in the 2017 Cal Ripken World Series.
“I did pretty well, from what I can remember,” she told me. “It’s been awhile ago now.”
Beacom was being a bit humble. From reading various news reports, it’s clear that the then-12-year-old was the talk of the tournament — hitting 75 mph with her fastball and impressing Japanese coaches so much they wanted her to play for Japan. She also had a golden quote about striking out boys.
“Sometimes I laugh,” she said sheepishly. “I love dominating on the mound.”
And now, still just a teenager, she’s playing at the highest level of the sport on her continent: Toeing the rubber for the Australian Baseball League’s Melbourne Aces. Although the official season was canceled this year due to COVID, teams are still barnstorming around and playing one another. It’s an unofficial winter circuit that’s hosted MLB stars such as Liam Hendriks, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Rhys Hoskins.
“She wouldn’t be getting this opportunity if she didn’t have the stuff and couldn’t compete here,” Peter Moylan, Aces manager and former MLB reliever told me in a call. “I have complete faith in her ability to pitch against anyone in this league.”
Beacom impressed Moylan — a man who knows about getting out of jams — after working around trouble in her appearance.
“She gave up three weak ground balls that could’ve turned into outs,” Moylan said. “For her to pitch around that in her first ever outing for the Aces was really, really good to see and showed maturity way beyond her years. Obviously the result didn’t go our way, but quite easy to forget about the result when you get to see something special like that.”
Although Beacom is mostly focused on pitching well for the Aces, getting a scholarship to pitch in college and “going as far as she can” in the sport, it’s not lost on her what she’s doing for little girls who look up to her everywhere. Girls who dream of playing a pastime that’s been historically hard for them to break into.
Postgame, she stressed for anybody listening to always do what you want to do and not listen to others. She seems happy and confident to be in such a groundbreaking role.
“I’ve had messages from girls on social media,” Beacom told me. “They’re talking about how much of an inspiration I am and how I’m doing so much for the game. It’s been really great to hear from them.”