In a whirlwind first season in the Atlantic League, what has helped keep things in perspective for the Staten Island Ferry Hawks’ Kelsie Whitmore has been her routine.
Whitmore has become a household name in baseball circles after becoming the first woman to play for a team in a league affiliated with Major League Baseball when she signed with the Staten Island Ferry Hawks in April. With that has come plenty of attention as she tries to carve out a career in baseball while seemingly blazing a trail for other women who play the sport to follow in the future.
Suffice to say, it can be a tough balancing act.
“It can definitely sometimes feel like a lot at times,” Whitmore told amNewYork. “If it means having to go through all the different steps and the claw through the ups and the downs, and having to go through it, it’s worth it if I’m going to change another person’s life. If I’m going to inspire someone or change one life, so I think it’s definitely worth it, but it’s definitely been a lot of crazy with a lot of stuff going on, but I’m trying to enjoy every single part of the ride.”
Add to all of that she’s doing this in one of the biggest baseball markets in the world, New York. SIUH Community Park may not be Yankee Stadium or Citi Field, but the Staten Island ballpark is still part of the rich tapestry of baseball history in the city.
And there is no shortage of baseball or passion for the game on any given night, which Whitmore has quickly learned.
“I think being in New York makes it a bigger atmosphere in a way,” she said. “At least to have our home field there, it definitely feels, I don’t want to say a bigger stage, but it’s just such a big baseball environment. I didn’t realize there was so much baseball going on in New York.”
Her routine is what has helped her keep that focus, especially as a two-way player for the Ferry Hawks. As both a position player and pitcher, the California native has two sets of skillsets to hone, which makes her routine that much more important.
Whitmore tends to work on both her pitching and fielding on a daily basis.
“Some days maybe it’s a little lighter on the pitching side of it, but still trying to get in the hitting side of it,” She explained. “Maybe other days it’s light on the pitching side of it and then I’ll be able to have live reads in the outfield. So it kind of varies with my pitching program and when I’m on. If it’s a high-intensity day, a bullpen day or if it’s a more low-intensity day. So I have time to go be more detail-oriented on putting in work, whether it’s in the field or in the box.”
To date, Whitmore has appeared in seven games for the Ferry Hawks in either a baserunning, position or pitching role. She made her Atlantic League debut on April 22 as a pinch-runner and became the first woman to start an Atlantic League game on May 1 in left field.
Three days later she became the first female to pitch in the Atlantic League, coming into the game in relief with the bases loaded and two outs.
Whitmore has two putouts in her Atlantic League career so far and an innings worth of work on the mound. She’s still looking for her first hit.
The 24-year-old may have played softball at Cal State Fullerton, but playing baseball has always been the goal and she’s been at it for some time. She’s played for the women’s national baseball team, helping them capture a silver medal at the 2014 Women’s Baseball World Cup and a gold medal during the 2015 Pan American Games.
She also played in the independent Pacific Association for the Sonoma Stompers in 2016.
With her career in baseball is well underway in the Atlantic League, it’s hard not to think about what might be next for Whitmore. Right now her mindset is just on playing baseball and getting better.
As for the future, Whitmore said she’d love to stay in the game or even perhaps become a firefighter once her playing days are over. “But right now my mind’s still set on the playing side of it and there’s nothing else I can really see myself doing,” she said.