19-year-old left handed pitcher Claire Eccles has signed with the Victoria HarbourCats, making her the first female player to suit up in the West Coast League. Tyler Bennett has more.
“It’s a historic day for Canadian baseball,” HarbourCats GM Brad Norris-Jones stated at a press conference held at Royal Athletic Park this afternoon, as the team announced the signing of 19-year-old Surrey product Claire Eccles. Eccles plays softball at UBC, but also plays baseball for Team Canada. Eccles will be pitching out of the bullpen to begin with, but Norris-Jones hasn’t entirely ruled out Eccles starting down the road.
“This is 2017,” Norris-Jones says, “we think forward, and this is the right move.”
When asked about when the team approached her with the idea of joining the HarbourCats, “”this is a little crazy,” Claire says, “I mean, I think women can play in baseball, but it’s just something that’s new.”
Eccles says the main goal of her joining the WCL is to inspire young girls, and help pave the way for women in baseball.
“I’m not just thinking about myself, I’m thinking about the bigger picture,” Eccles says, “there’s a lot of young girls out there who wanna play ball and hopefully this is a chance for more women to play in baseball, and for all the younger girls hopefully in the future will get a similar opportunity.”
Eccles and Norris-Jones say everyone on the team is extremely supportive of the signing, Claire will join the team on June 6th.