Actions Speak Loudest: Talent Carried Olivia Pichardo To Her Place In History

When Kim Ng was named the general manager of the Marlins, she earned another title: the first female GM in MLB history. 

When Elizabeth Benn played in the New York City Metro League, she became the first female to do so. 

They did not ask to make history. That’s true for all the women in baseball who have broken barriers. It is just a product of no longer looking at gender as a barrier to a job. 

Olivia Pichardo never asked to be another “first.” She just is. When she made the Brown University baseball team in October 2022, she earned the title of the first female baseball player in Division I history. Though she did not ask for her story to go viral, it is not a title she takes lightly. 

“I think it is sinking in a bit more for me now,” Pichardo said. “ I have my role models, like Ng and Benn, but every woman in baseball is a pioneer by default. I think in order to be a good player, you have to play for something bigger than yourself. That’s my biggest motivator, now knowing the position I’m in. It’s motivation for me to be the best player that I can be.”

At 6 years old, Pichardo played Little League on Long Island with two female teammates. From then on, she did not have a female on her team until she was 14 years old. That didn’t really sink in until Pichardo was in eighth grade. Insecurities began to creep in, and other students weren’t always the nicest, but she learned to block it out. 

“I just stopped caring about what other people thought of me,” Pichardo said. “I was a good baseball player. I didn’t struggle on the field. As a pitcher, I struck people out. And as a hitter, I got a lot of hits. My abilities were never questioned by anybody. I always had the respect from my teammates and respect from my coaches. 

“So I think that my actions spoke louder than the words that people may have been throwing at me.”

At any age, the ability to silence critics is difficult. Now, imagine doing it in eighth grade. That level of maturity and tenacity led Pichardo to Brown. 

She got offers to play baseball, but Pichardo knew she could play at the Division I level. So she decided to look at schools from an academic standpoint and went from there. 

After getting accepted to Brown on her own scholastic merit, Pichardo emailed Grant Achilles, the Bears’ head baseball coach.

“I kept (Achilles) updated on everything I was doing throughout the summer prior to freshman year,” Pichardo said. “By the time tryouts happened, he knew who I was and what I was about.”

The summer before her freshman year, Pichardo was working on and off the field. She worked in the Mets’ front office as an amateur scouting department intern. In 2022, she made four starts in the outfield and one on the mound for USA Baseball’s Women’s National Team. 

After all of the excitement that summer, it was time for Pichardo to set out what she had always dreamed of doing: playing college baseball.

“After I tried out for the team, coach told me they would like to see me throughout the fall and see how I do on the fall rosters. So I hadn’t made the team yet. I practiced with the team and lifted with them throughout the fall. I think it was Oct. 4 that I officially made the team.”

News spread quickly of Pichardo making history. She joked that her phone had never rang so much. Messages from friends, family, Team USA teammates and Mets manager Buck Showalter came pouring in congratulating Pichardo. 

She didn’t try out for the team for the headlines, the fame or the texts from the manager of her favorite team. Pichardo let her talent speak for itself and earned a roster spot.  

“The expectation for me is the same as the expectations for the rest of my teammates,” Pichardo said. “That’s all I can ask for.”  

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