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Belle of the Knuckleball

Sports Illustrated's website reported on Friday that Eri Yoshida, who pitched professionally in Japan last season, will take the mound this summer for the Chico Outlaws of the Golden Baseball League, an independent circuit with teams in Arizona, California, and Canada.

The pitcher is 18 years old, 5 feet tall, weighs just 114 lbs, and requires special locker room facilities…not because Eri Yoshida is imitating Barry Bonds, but because Eri Yoshida is a woman.

It has long been supposed by people with nothing more important to think about that if a woman were ever to play Major League Baseball, that woman would be a knuckleball pitcher.

Eri Yoshida learned to throw the knuckleball by watching videos of Tim Wakefield, with whom she recently visited at the Boston Red Sox spring training facility in Fort Myers, Florida.

Some people will dismiss the signing of Eri Yoshida by the Chico Outlaws as a promotional stunt…something along the lines of Disco Demolition Night, Ten Cent Beer Night, or the night upon which somebody dressed all in red, white, and blue summersaults out of a circling airplane to present the game ball to the umpire at home plate.

Others will root for Eri Yoshida to baffle every hitter she faces, thereby perhaps encouraging some team further up the baseball chain to buy her from the Outlaws.

Real dreamers will imagine that Yoshida is now just small steps away from taking the mound in a Major League yard, and Hollywood scripts built on that unlikely proposition are no doubt already in the works.

The Chico Outlaws open their season on May 21 in Tijuana. They play their home opener on May 26. Assuming Eri Yoshida doesn’t decide on a career change between now and then, it’s likely that the Chico Outlaws will draw a better Opening Day crowd than they would have before Friday’s announcement.

This program aired on April 12, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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