But yet she can! Eri Yoshida, 16-year-old pitching wunderkind, has been drafted into an independent Japanese baseball team, the Kobe 9 Cruise. Her recruitment makes it the first of its kind in Japan’s recent history (there was a professional league over 50 years ago).
As you can see in the video, not only is she excited (“Sugoi! Bikurishimashita!” = “This is awesome! I’m so surprised!”), she’s very thankful. And while the normalcy of her being a baseball star in chugakusei (junior high school, hence the uniform) isn’t really discussed in the media attention, her positioning in a professional baseball league is a big deal not only for Japan, but for Western perceptions of Japanese women in sport and other non-traditional roles.
I’m excited to watch Eri-chan take on the world of Japanese pro baseball and am curious to see how our perceptions of women’s rights and opportunities across the Pacific pond play out in the media. Not only is she the first woman to play in this league, but this will be the first time she actually gets to play competitively with men. It’s also the first time she’ll have to deal with scrutiny she probably never expected, because it seems that some people think she was recruited for publicity, rather than her skill.