Jennie Finch has long been thought of as one of the best female softball players in the world. The athlete isn’t settling for notoriety in her original profession, however, as it was announced earlier this week that Jennie Finch is going to make history as the first woman to ever officially manage a professional baseball team. Finch is not going to be helming a major league baseball team or one of its minor league affiliates. The former softball player is going to be taking over the leadership for a night of the Independent Bridgeport Bluefish.
The retired pitcher will be running the team for one day, on Sunday, as what it is calling a guest manager. The team put out an announcement this week saying it was quite excited to be having the world-famous Jennie Finch as its manager.
“We are excited to have Jennie come out and manage the team. She is an incredible athlete and a wonderful person, and we hope our fans will enjoy seeing her in a Bluefish uniform for the day.”
While this kind of a job might be looked at as nothing more than ceremonial for some women, Finch has put together a career that has gotten plenty of respect from people inside her sport as well as those in the baseball community. Finch not only led her Arizona Wildcats softball team to the 2001 National Championship, but she has won several medals in the Olympic Games as well. Over the course of her career, Finch has won both a silver and a gold for the United States Olympic team. She pitched for the U.S. team in Athens in 2004 and in Beijing in 2008.
Finch has long had an interest in the baseball world, having hosted some different specials and programs centered around the sport. She is also married to former major league pitcher Casey Daigle. Perhaps because of her connections to the baseball world through her husband, she has often gone up against some of the best hitters in the Bigs. More often than not, Finch has managed to hold her own when she has gone up against major league hitters.
While Jennie Finch doesn’t have the same kind of velocity big leaguers are used to seeing, she throws in a style they are not familiar with and this has led to some strikeouts. While Finch retired from softball almost six years ago now, she has managed to stay active in softball and baseball as a coach and ambassador for both sports. It’s a safe bet her work in this regard is one of the reasons the Bluefish chose Jennie Finch to serve as the guest manager.
This isn’t the first time the Bluefish have hosted a guest manager for a game. The team has undertaken this practice a few other times in the very recent past. Just last year, the Independent League franchise handed the reigns of the team over to former Major League Baseball manager and player Pete Rose. This was during the time when Rose believed he was close to being accepted back into the MLB’s good graces, at least enough to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Because this is an Independent League team, it does not have to follow the rules set forth by MLB. This is why the franchise can have people like Finch stepping in as a manager for a day. It’s also why it was able to allow Rose to do the same. The former Red has been entirely banned from the majors because he was caught gambling and it’s assumed he bet on his team while he was managing the Cincinnati Reds. Finch might not hold the title of being the Bluefish’ first guest manager, but Jennie Finch has earned the honor of being the first female manager of a professional baseball team.
[Photo by Larry French/Getty Images for the USOC]