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The knuckleballing Chelsea Baker threw BP to the Rays yesterday

Jun 24, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 9.32.29 AM AP

Four years ago we linked a story about a girl who played little league baseball. That’s not a big deal. Lots of girls play little league baseball. What set her apart was that she was a knuckleballer who had been trained to throw the pitch by knuckleball legend Joe Niekro.

Flash forward to 2014 and Chelsea Baker is still at it. Of course she’s not a little leaguer anymore — she plays for the Durant High School baseball team in Plant City, Florida. And she’s legit: she went 3-0 with one save and a 0.74 ERA for the varsity team this year.

Yesterday she pitched BP to the Tampa Bay Rays. And while given that she’s a high schooler and it’s batting practice, of course the Rays made some solid contact. But on a few occasions she fooled the Rays hitters and made them look awkward up there like any good knuckleballer would. She also nailed Evan Longoria in the back once. I’m assuming it just got away from her and wasn’t about some past incident, but you never know with ballplayers. They all get hung up on perceived slights on occasion.

Here’s the story and here’s video from the Tampa Bay Times:

  1. proudlycanadian - Jun 24, 2014 at 9:48 AM

    I am sure that hitting Longoria was some form of payback. Maybe he hit on her in a previous life.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 24, 2014 at 10:02 AM

      Sorry if I did, and sorry if I didn’t.

    • happytwinsfan - Jun 24, 2014 at 10:43 AM

      She plunked him for what he was thinking. Good girl.

  2. indaburg - Jun 24, 2014 at 10:00 AM

    Chelsea respects the unwritten rules.

    Seriously, I have so much respect for this young woman. She’s the first girl to play on a boys’s high school baseball team in Hillsborough County and she’s really, really good. It’s too bad she’s so small–just 5’3″.

    • historiophiliac - Jun 24, 2014 at 11:24 AM

      Awwww, man. Too bad she’s not bigger. 😦

    • dondada10 - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:19 PM

      Perhaps the height could work in her advantage in some way. It would be amazing if she could some day make a MLB team.

    • clydeserra - Jun 24, 2014 at 3:05 PM

      I think Eri Yoshida is 5’3.”

  3. georgewashingtonsghost - Jun 24, 2014 at 10:05 AM

    Hey, she stole Longoria’s hat!

  4. sdelmonte - Jun 24, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    Further evidence that there needs to be women’s baseball at all levels. Or maybe evidence that what we really need is just baseball without distinction of gender. Either way, I fully expect a push for women to pitch against men in the pros.

    • clydeserra - Jun 24, 2014 at 3:03 PM

      I can’t understand the thumbs down. Are people so afraid of women that they don’t even want think of them* IN THE ABSTRACT playing baseball at all levels?

      *I assume the thumbs downers are men

    • nbjays - Jun 24, 2014 at 3:26 PM

      Do you really want a woman with Historiophiliac’s mindset pitching in the majors? HBPiD would be rampant! :-)

      • historiophiliac - Jun 24, 2014 at 5:03 PM

        he he

  5. raysfan1 - Jun 24, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    She will be trying out for the national women’s baseball team this year. There have been a few women who have played in the independent leagues before. It will be interesting over the next few years to see if she can progress further.

    • zzalapski - Jun 24, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      Hopefully she catches on with the St. Paul Saints.

  6. papacrick - Jun 24, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    With Longoria’s weird sexual habits I wouldn’t be surprised if he did something sleazy to her. I know a great looking girl here in Michigan that he calls on every time they come and play the Tigers (gave her his number in the stands 4 seasons ago) and bizarre is the only word I can use to describe what he keeps in his hotel refrigerator and what he likes done to him.

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 24, 2014 at 2:37 PM

      and you uh, KNOW this girl yourself you say…

      got it…

      • papacrick - Jun 24, 2014 at 8:01 PM

        Uhh yeah tool. Sorry if you’re hero likes a finger up his ass and playing with butt plugs and anal beads.

  7. sportsdrenched - Jun 24, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    After camping with a bunch of Cub Scouts this past weekend. I think what I’m supposed to say is: “That’s boss”

    • clemente2 - Jun 24, 2014 at 3:07 PM

      “Boss” as a positive exclamation is back? I am going to be groovy again, can you dig it!

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Jun 24, 2014 at 6:00 PM

        That is so far out, man. And cool bellbottoms dude.

  8. mlbfan8898 - Jun 24, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    If they ever let women play in men’s professional sports leagues, they better let men play the in women’s leagues if they can’t make it at the men’s level. You know, to make it fair for everyone. You can’t only have it one way.

    • Bryz - Jun 24, 2014 at 11:17 AM

      Not sure if you’re trolling or if you’re serious. But in case you do actually believe this…

      There’s already an option for the guys that can’t cut it in the pros for baseball. It’s called the minor leagues, independent leagues, playing overseas, town ball leagues, etc.

      • historiophiliac - Jun 24, 2014 at 11:22 AM

        You don’t understand the rampant discrimination against men in women’s sports. #misandry!!!!!

    • mcsnide - Jun 24, 2014 at 11:20 AM

      Yes, absolutely. Men should totally be allowed to earn the highly lucrative contracts available in the Women’s Major Leagues.

  9. mlbfan8898 - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    Minor leagues is the pros dummy. It’s still “professional” baseball

  10. Francisco (FC) - Jun 24, 2014 at 2:58 PM

    She also nailed Evan Longoria

    I like cutting out snippets of articles and completely depriving them of context.

    • indaburg - Jun 24, 2014 at 3:59 PM

      You too, FC? She’s 17.

      • Francisco (FC) - Jun 24, 2014 at 4:32 PM

        You gotta feed the inner 12 year old from time to time.

  11. musketmaniac - Jun 24, 2014 at 3:44 PM

    They showed her highlights during the Ray-pirate game last night. They didn’t tee off on her knuckle ball. how much effort went into their hitting, I would wonder. But she could be a reason why not to mix the gender leagues. When they took photos she was quick to nestle up with the players, she looked like she wanted to follow them into the showers. Now that’s team sports.

  12. drewsylvania - Jun 24, 2014 at 3:47 PM

    This is so awesome.

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