OAKLAND—Starting as a 16-year-old in high school, Justine Siegal had a dream. She wanted to coach professional baseball and show that a girl could teach the boys a thing or two.
That dream came true in the fall of 2015 when Siegal served as a coach at the Athletics’ instructional league camp in Mesa, Ariz. She filled the role of a regular coach, hitting grounders and throwing batting practice, plus teaching a seminar on continuing education.
“I loved every minute of it,” Siegal said. “It’s just that I love baseball. With the A’s, I felt like I was part of a family.”
Her work ethic and determination impressed the coaches around her. “She’s a good person with a big heart,” farm director Keith Lieppman said. “Her own story is that of determination and setting new boundaries; not being distracted by the naysayers. Those are things that players can relate to.”
Siegal’s personal story is one of facing many naysayers. When she attended a baseball camp at 16, she encountered it quickly. “The first person I told that I wanted to be a coach laughed at me.”
Now, she has the last laugh. Siegal played baseball against the boys while she was growing up in Cleveland, then continued through her adult years. She has already broken other barriers. She served as an assistant baseball coach at Springfield College in Massachusetts from 2008-10. Two years later, she went on a quest to become the first woman to throw batting practice to a major-league team, and she wound up throwing BP to the Indians, A’s, Rays, Cardinals, Astros and Mets.
“I’ve prepared my whole life for pretty much the impossible,” the 40-year-old says with a gentle laugh.
She is also the founder and director of Baseball for All, a program that gives girls the opportunity to play baseball.
“I love coaching, and I’m really honored to be the first (woman in pro baseball),” Siegal said. “But it’s not about me. It’s about building a better future for the girls behind me.”
• The A’s hired Ed Sprague Jr. as a special assignment coach. Sprague will work at spring training and instructs, plus various duties throughout the system during the season.
• Rangel Ravelo received time in left field during his stint in the Venezuelan League. Normally a first baseman, adding a position could provide more chances for making the majors.