As if Eri Yoshida's story could not get anymore interesting, the 18 year-old sidearm knuckleball pitcher will make her way this year to the U.S. to play for Golden League team Chico Outlaws. She was already the first female to play in the Japanese men's baseball league, but now she will be the first female professional baseball player to play in North America for over a decade.
Yoshida is a mere 155cm, a height which normally does not inspire much fear and trembling in batters. And her pitches are relatively slow at 80 kph (50 mph). But with knuckleballs, the issue isn't speed as much as the unpredictability of the ball's path. Yoshida's got a killer knuckleball.
The young pitcher will appear at spring training in May and spent March preparing with knuckleball legend Tim Wakefield at the Boston Red Sox' minor league training center. She has also been playing (and winning games) in the independent Arizona Winter League. Yoshida will surely challenge herself with this move to America, but the good news is that even if she fails as a pitcher, she can easily sell her life story back in Japan for millions and millions of yen.
That's quite amazing. And this is the league the Calgary Vipers play in. So when the Chico vipers come to town, the Vipers would be smart to hype this up and sell a few tickets!