Women ConqHERing Sports History

Women ConqHERing Sports History

March is Women’s History Month. It is a time to look back and celebrate all the contributions women have made to American history, culture, and society. At Eastbay, our ConqHER campaign continuously highlights women who are breaking barriers in sports. This March we will be sharing some of the stories of women who made history on and off the field in 2020.

Kim Ng

Women have steadily entered the basketball and football coaching and front office ranks for the past couple of years, but baseball has lagged a little behind. That began to change when the Miami Marlins hired Kim Ng as their general manager, making her the first female general manager in the Big 4 sports leagues. Kim is a graduate of the University of Chicago where she played softball for four years and earned a B.A. in public policy. She was hired by the Chicago White Sox after graduation and has worked for numerous other teams like the Yankees and Dodgers. She also served as the Senior Vice President of Operations for the league office before accepting her new role with the Marlins.

Sam Mewis

Sam Mewis’s footballing resume continues to get more impressive. The USWNT midfielder has been a staple in midfield for the Americans and was a part of the team that won the 2018 World Cup. Currently, she is holding down the midfield for 2nd place Manchester City in the Women’s Super League. Recently, it was announced she was the 2020 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year, the first time she has won the award.

Breanna Stewart

Breanna Stewart is arguably the most talented and decorated player to come out of the UConn women’s program. She is now one of the most dominant players in the WNBA, winning an MVP and multiple titles with the Seattle Storm. In 2019, Stewart suffered one of the worst injuries in sports when she ruptured her Achilles. After sitting out that entire season, she returned to help lead Seattle to another title and was named one of Sports Illustrated ‘Sportspeople of the Year’ for her activism off the court.

A’ja Wilson

At every level of the sport, A’ja Wilson has dominated. She was a champion and McDonald’s All-American in high school. In college, she led the South Carolina Gamecocks to their first championship in school history and was a three-time consensus All-American. She was recently named the 2020 WNBA MVP after helping lead the Las Vegas Aces to the WNBA Finals.

Aliphine Tuliamuk

Aliphine Tuliamuk will be representing the United States as a long-distance runner at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Tuliamuk placed first in the Olympic Marathon trials in Atlanta, Georgia with a time of 2:27:23. A former cross-country runner at Wichita State, Tuliamuk was the first person from her village in her native home of Kenya to graduate from college.

Jennifer King

Jennifer King recently became the first black woman to be hired as a full-time coach in the NFL. The former two-sport athlete at Guilford College was an intern with the Carolina Panthers, where she served as the wide receivers coach in 2018 and running backs coach in 2019 under Ron Rivera. She then followed him to Washington, where she is now the assistant running backs coach.

Sophie Luoto

Sophie Luoto has exceeded expectations in every role she’s stepped into in her professional career. She began her journey into football while still in college at UCLA when she started working for the athletic department as a student recruiting assistant. Afterward, she took a job at UC Berkley where she was quickly named the Director of Operations. During her time at Cal, several members of the LA Rams organization reached out to gauge her interest in working for an NFL team. She accepted and spent a few years working on the business side before being asked to return to the football side.  After a year and a half, she earned the Director of Operations title which made her the highest-ranking female executive in the NFL.

Chelsea Romero

Chelsea Romero has always loved the competitiveness of strength & conditioning. She enjoys inspiring and motivating people day in and day out to reach their goals. Chelsea knows that hard work can lead to incredible opportunities. While working at UC Irvine, she had a chance encounter with the LA Rams head of strength and conditioning. After offering to work for free, she became the training camp intern serving mostly as an extra set of hands at first. It wasn’t long before she was offered, and accepted, a position that made her the Rams first-ever female strength and conditioning coach.

Caster Semenya

Caster Semenya continues to fight for the human rights of female athletes everywhere. The South African runner was born with a rare genetic condition that causes elevated testosterone levels. This has led many people to demand she take testosterone blockers or simply block her from running. Caster will continue to lead the fight for her right to run the way she was born.

Becky Hammon

Becky Hammon may be the most well-known female coach in the Big 4 leagues. She is an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs under Gregg Popovich, a role she’s held since 2014. She has made a name for herself as one of the most well-regarded assistants in the league and received buzz as a potential head coaching candidate this past offseason. This season, after Popovich was ejected during a game against the LA Lakers, Hammon assumed head coaching duties making her the first woman to coach in an NBA game.

Sarah Fuller

This past college football season was unlike anything we’ve ever seen before as COVID-19 wreaked havoc across campuses. Games were canceled, players were forced into quarantine, the whole thing was a mess. From this mess came an opportunity for Sarah Fuller, Vanderbilt’s starting goalie on the women’s soccer team. Vanderbilt had an upcoming game against Missouri, but due to opt-outs and contact tracing protocols, the team had no available placekickers. Head coach Derek Mason reached out to Fuller to see if she would be interested in trying out for the team. Soon after, she became the first woman to play in a Power 5 conference game. Later in the season, Fuller became the first woman to score in a Power 5 game when she went 2-2 on extra points against Tennessee.

Sabrina Ionescu

Sabrina Ionescu was born to get buckets. After a spectacular career at Miramonte High School where she graduated as the all-time leader in points, assists, steals, and triple-doubles, Sabrina chose to attend the University of Oregon and play for the Ducks. During her senior season in a game against #4 ranked Stanford Ionescu became the first NCAA player with 2,000 points, 1,000 assists, and 1,000 rebounds in their career. Following her career at Oregon, Sabrina was the #1 overall pick in the WNBA draft by the New York Liberty, where she plays today.

Alyssa Nakken

Alyssa Nakken made history this year by becoming the first full-time female coach in MLB history after being hired by the San Francisco Giants. Alyssa played college softball for Sacramento State, where she was a three-time all-conference selection at first base. She initially interned with the Giants working on their health and wellness programs before going back to school to get her Master’s degree. The Giants then promoted her in January 2020 to a full-time coach.

Katie Sowers

Katie Sowers has made history twice in the past 5 years. In 2017 she became the first openly LGBT coach in the NFL when she came out as a lesbian. In 2020, Katie became the first female coach to coach in the Super Bowl when the San Francisco 49ers went up against the Kansas City Chiefs. Her career began when she was an intern scout with the Atlanta Falcons before moving over to San Francisco as an offensive assistant on Kyle Shannan’s staff.

Mickey Grace

Mickey Grace knows that she can accomplish whatever she sets her mind too. The former Math and leadership teacher in Philadelphia was recently chosen to be a part of the Scouting Apprenticeship Program with the Los Angeles Rams. Mickey is a former high school football player and in addition to teaching also serves as the defensive line coach for her school.

Chiney Ogwumike

Chiney Ogwumike is not only a dominant force on the court but off it as well. A decorated high school and college career led her to be the #1 overall pick in the 2014 WNBA draft by the Connecticut Sun. After multiple All-Star appearances while on the Sun she was traded to the LA Sparks and reunited with her sister Nneka. It was recently announced she and the Sparks had agreed to a multi-year deal keeping her in LA for the foreseeable future. In 2018, she signed a multi-year deal with ESPN, making her one of the youngest people to become a full-time basketball analyst. This year she made history as the first Black woman to host a national radio show for ESPN.

Maya Moore

There is almost no parallel in the sports world for what Maya Moore has done. She is one of the best players in her sport: a four-time WNBA champion, MVP, and six-time All-Star. Yet she has willingly sacrificed two years of her prime, two years of not playing the sport she loves, to try and secure one man’s freedom from prison. This past July, Jeremy Irons, who was serving a 50-year sentence for burglary and assault, walked free after 20 years. Irons, whose conviction was suspicious given the complete lack of evidence, said of Moore, “She is light, pure light.” Moore has said she will give an update on her basketball career in the future, but whether or not she returns to the court, we should all be inspired by her courage and dedication to justice.

Sarah Thomas

Sarah Thomas has made history multiple times. She was the first female referee to work a major college football game. Then Sarah became the first woman to ref a college football bowl game. Finally, this past February, Sarah became the first woman to officiate a Super Bowl. She continues to be an inspiration for all the other women out there looking to go into officiating.

Amy Trask

Amy Trask has been in and around football longer than many people have been alive. The “Princess of Darkness” as she is affectionately called by Raiders fans started out in the legal department of the Los Angeles Raiders back in 1987. She was named their CEO in 1997 making her the first female CEO in the NFL. After resigning from the team in 2013, Trask went on to serve as an analyst for CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network. She recently won the 2020 Top Women in Media award given by Cynopsis Media.

Sam Gordon

Most people remember Samantha Gordon from when she was absolutely cooking boys on the football field when she was nine. The videos her father uploaded of her blowing past or juking boys twice her size immediately went viral. Now 17, she has continued to fight for all-girls football rights in her home state of Utah.

Garciaparra Baseball Group Partners Up with Eastbay

Garciaparra Baseball Group Partners Up with Eastbay

Indianapolis, Indiana – Michael Garciaparra, the founder of Garciaparra Baseball Group (GBG), announced the organization has signed a one-year agreement with Eastbay to provide Nike footwear, apparel, and gear for the club.

Eastbay has been a leader in the athletic performance and lifestyle product market for over 40 years, with a vast selection of gear from all the biggest brands.

Garciaparra, who founded GBG with his father Ramon, is excited for what the partnership will bring saying, “It’s awesome that our families and our players are going to have access to so many great products. A lot of us have been fans of Eastbay since we were young kids getting the catalog. As an organization with players across the country, it’s awesome to be with a company that can get product into our players’ hands fast and efficiently.”

GBG recently won the 2020 WWBA World Championship, the largest event in travel baseball, down in Ft. Myers, Florida. Ninety-six teams from around the country, and teams from Canada and Puerto Rico, battled it out with some of the top players in the country going head to head. GBG was able to place first in their pool, winning two games and drawing one. They battled to the final, where they overcame an early deficit en route to a 9-1 win.

Garciaparra said the team showed a lot of fight despite barely practicing and playing together due to the pandemic. “We haven’t had official games and our practices have been limited. The time we did get to play together we had to go to Arizona or Nevada, and we could only do that so many times because we were trying to be COVID conscious.”

2021 will see the club participating in several huge USA Baseball events during the summer and the Perfect Game 17U World Series out in Arizona.

Eastbay representative Shay Maltese worked closely with GBG to organize the partnership. “I’m excited to be working with one of the top clubs in the US. I love interacting on the baseball side daily with them.”

Easton drops a new version of the B5 Pro Big Barrel Bat

Easton drops a new version of the B5 Pro Big Barrel Bat

The Green Easton is back!

When Easton first introduced the B5 Pro Big Barrel bat in 1978, it opened the world’s eyes to the largest barrel on an aluminum bat the sport of baseball had ever seen. Now, over 40 years later, Easton is bringing back that classic green, big barrel look and combining it with new, breakthrough technology worthy of the B5 Big Barrel name.

While the look will remind older generations of watching future legends like Barry Bonds, Bo Jackson, and Frank Thomas swing this stick, the new generation of players will be wowed by the larger sweet spot and bigger surface area that make this bat a must-have in today’s game.

“This is a really important bat launch for us because it combines the history of Easton as a company with the technology and engineering that we’ve been able to advance over the years,” said John Loeffler, the Category Manager of Bats at Easton Diamond Sports.

“We’re really excited to be reintroducing this bat to the next generation of baseball players,” Loeffler said. “I personally think it’s cool for a college or high school player to swing the same bat that their dad, uncle, or grandpa might have swung.”

But Loeffler also made it clear that it’s not really the exact same bat from the 70s and 80s — it’s loaded with the latest technology that Easton has been perfecting for decades.

The 2021 B5 version is BBCOR certified and features thin ATAC Alloy that maximizes barrel performance. This one-piece aluminum bat also utilizes a ringless barrel design with different layers of alloy spread across the barrel to create a bigger sweet spot and smoother feel. Finally, the VRS™ handle insert reduces vibration and the Natural Pro Balance results in a balanced feel, making it the perfect bat for both speed and power.

Even after all the innovative tech improvements, Easton’s design team didn’t want to stray too far from the original look, giving this bat a very minimalistic and retro feel.

“When starting to redesign the B5 Big Barrel, we wanted it to align with the original one’s look, but with a bit of a modern twist to it,” Loeffler said. “It’s a really sleek, traditional, and simple design. You see companies in other industries, like Vans or Chuck Taylor, keep that old school look. So, I think it’s cool to bring that vintage feel back into baseball because you never really see that in today’s age.”

Whether you’re fascinated by the revolutionary performance this one-piece aluminum BBCOR bat brings to the table or attracted to its modern remix of the Green Easton’s classic look, make sure to hit up eastbay.com right when it drops on 10/1 and pick one up!

Click here to shop more game-winning baseball gear.

Five Things You Should Know About the Return of Baseball

Five Things You Should Know About the Return of Baseball

The very first thing you need to know about America’s Pastime is – it’s back. Professional baseball is set to return on July 23, with no fans, when New York plays Washington in what the league is calling an “Opening Night” ceremony. But, with the obvious obstacles of playing games amid a global pandemic, this season will look much different. Beyond the regulations put in place to keep players healthy and safe, baseball has changed its game fundamentally to adhere to this unusual, shortened season.

60-game schedule: With almost two-thirds of the baseball season cut, each game will matter so much more. The most talented pitchers will be called upon more frequently, and teams will be more aggressive with their strategies as the margin for error minimizes during this condensed schedule. Every team will play 10 games against each of the other four teams within their division. The remaining 20 games will be played against teams in their corresponding interleague division (East vs. East, West vs. West, etc.) in hopes to make travel safer and more manageable.

Universal DH: For the first time in league history, no pitcher will step up to the batter’s box during the 2020 season. Every team will use a Designated Hitter, and it’s believed that this rule could carry over into the 2021 season and beyond. A change that some fans have pushing for years.

Extra inning = Extra runner: In hopes to speed up the game and lessen the time players spend in the ballpark, all extra innings will now start with a runner on second until one team wins. This rule was adopted in the minor leagues two years ago and has been successful in shortening extra inning games.

Bring your own everything: In addition to the banning of traditional high-fives, fist bumps, and other miscellaneous team-oriented celebrations, players will be responsible for taking care of their own personal equipment. That means batters will have to bring their own pine-tar rags and bat donuts to and from the on-deck circle, and pitchers will now have to bring their own rosin bag to the mound and only use their own baseballs when throwing a bullpen session. Baseballs used in batting practice will be washed, sanitized, and stored for at least five days before they can be used again.

Suspended games: Remember the good old days when games could get rained out for the fifth inning and they would be replayed? Those days are long gone, well for this season at least. Any game that’s started and subsequently stopped because of weather will be picked back up right where they left off on a different day, no matter what inning the game was originally called in. The reasoning behind this new rule is to avoid long weather delays and get players out of the ballpark as quickly as possible.

Illustrations by @floppyaction on Instagram 

How to Find the Best Baseball Glove

How to Find the Best Baseball Glove

The right baseball glove can make all the difference but choosing the right glove for you can be a daunting task. To help simplify things, we created a guide that takes you through the steps to find the perfect glove for your position and needs.

First off, you need to know the basic anatomy of a baseball glove. There are five main parts that make up a traditional glove, starting with the webbing. The web of a glove sits between your thumb and pointer finger, creating a deep pocket to help secure the ball on catch. Next is the lacing that connects the finger pockets together. Check the material of the laces and make sure it matches up with the overall material of your glove, so both will break-in and form to your hand during the same timeframe. The hinge of a glove is also very important when breaking in your new glove. The hinge is usually found near the base of you little finger pad and is the flexible part that helps you open and close the glove quickly. Located next to the hinge is the heel of the glove. The heel is the very bottom portion of the glove that provides padding to protect your wrist when fielding nasty grounders. Lastly, you have the palm of the glove, which, you guessed it, protects the palm of you hand when securing a ball that you couldn’t quite snag in the webbing of your pocket.

Another confusing aspect of buying a baseball glove is what materials you want your glove to be made from. Baseball gloves come in a variety of different leathers that all sound similar but provide different benefits. For example, most gloves are made from some sort of leather, but depending on the type and cut, gloves will take more or less time to break-in and reach peak performance. The baseline material for gloves is cowhide. Cowhide is great for younger players who are just starting out, because it offers a quicker break-in, but also wears out faster than higher-quality leather gloves. A step above cowhide leather is steerhide. Steerhide is a bit stronger, stiffer, and heavier than cowhide, offering a tougher break-in, but better performance once broken in. Finally, most professional glove models use premium, full-grain leather. This type of leather will be more expensive and will take the longest to break-in but it provides extreme durability and its trusted at the highest level of the game.

After you select your glove material, you should take a look at the webbing options your glove has to offer. A glove’s web is very beneficial based on your position and style of play. Below we’ve outlined the different types of webs available and the advantages to using each.

Fielders

Cross: The cross web is simple, yet effective. Utilized by infielders and outfielders alike, this web features one vertical leather strip and two horizontal strips, creating a flexible feel. Also known as the Single Post web, it creates maximum visibility when catching the ball.

H-Web: True to it’s name, the strips of leather in this web form the shape of an “H”. The H-Web is used by outfielders and infielders alike because of the sturdier base and unmatched visibility. Some brands also refer to this style as a Dual Post Web.

I-Web: As an iteration of the cross web, the I-webbing features a large leather post in the shape of an “I”. This pattern is used exclusively by infielders and helps snag grounders without catching a bunch of dirt and debris with the ball. Some brands also refer to this webbing style as an H-Web, but is predominately called an I-Web. 

Modified Trap: The modified trap web is usually used by pitchers and infielders because of its deep pocket combined with a small section of leather to add stability for ground balls.

Trapeze: This webbing is great for outfielders who spend a lot of time catching fly balls. The thin leather strap features interlaced lacing on both sides, allowing for a deeper pocket.

Two-piece: The two-piece web is a great option for pitchers because it allows them to conceal the ball from the batter. The solid pocket creates a heavier feel but its extremely durable, preventing wear and tear.

Catchers

Half Moon: The half moon catcher’s web is designed for flexibility. The pattern uses two large leather pieces that are laced together to create a secure pocket and easier close.

One-piece: The traditional one-piece catcher’s web uses lacing around the edges to create a tight pocket that’s shallow enough for a quick transfer and release of the ball.

First Basemen

Modified H-Web: The modified H-Web is made for first basemen because of its extra leather strip on the top of the glove that helps expands catch radius for easier scoops and fielding at first base.

Single Post Double Bar: Much like the infielders’ cross pattern, the single post double bar pattern creates more visibility for catching throws at first base.

Now that you’ve done your research and are ready to find the perfect mitt, check out our selection of top-tier baseball gloves at eastbay.com!

How to Find The Best Baseball Bat

How to Find The Best Baseball Bat

Would a tennis player step onto the court with a hockey stick? Would a basketball player try to shoot a bowling ball? Would a football player take the field in a Speedo and shaved legs? Of course not. Having the right gear and equipment is crucial to every athlete’s success. However, for baseball players, finding the right gear can be tricky. For bats there are seemingly infinite options, sizes, and colors to choose from, which is why we’ve created a guide to find your perfect bat.

When looking at bats, it’s helpful to understand their anatomy. There are five main components that make up a bat. There’s the grip where you hold your hands, and the knob, which keeps your hands in place when you swing. Extending up from the grip is the taper, the extremely skinny portion of the barrel. The barrel is the sweet spot of the bat, the place where dingers are born, and doubles are made. Finally, the bat is topped off with an end cap, which can help increase control and limit weight.

When it comes to picking the perfect bat, there are two main things to focus on: length and weight. Finding the perfect combination of these two will ensure you can step to the plate with confidence.

Length

Bats are measured in inches from the knob to the end cap with the standard range of bat lengths being 24 to 34 inches. Length is all about covering the strike zone – the longer the bat the easier it is to hit pitches on the outer part of the plate. That doesn’t mean you should just grab a 34” bat and hit the cages though. The longer the bat, the heavier it is which can mess up your swing and cause you to be late and struggle against inside pitches. The length of bat you use typically correlates with your height. The taller you are, the bigger the strike zone, thus the longer the bat needs to be. Check out our handy guide below to see how you can find the perfect length for you.

The bat should run from your fingertips to the middle of your chest.
You should be able to grab just above the taper when you stick the bat to your chest.
The bat’s knob should hit your palm when on the ground

Weight

When looking at a bat’s weight, you might come across the term “weight drop” which is closely related. A bat’s weight is measured in ounces and weight drop refers to the length of the bat minus its weight in ounces. For example, if a bat is 31” and has a weight of 28 ounces, then it has a weight drop of -3. There are regulations governing how much weight drop you can have on a bat, so make sure to talk to your coach about which bats are allowed. League rules vary by age and state, but general rules are as follows: ages 4-6 use a tee ball bat, 7-13 use a USA or USSSA certified bats, and 14-18 uses BBCOR bats.

Below is a chart that can give you a starting point for finding the right bat based on your height and weight. Remember, the best way to tell how well you like a bat is to practice with it against live pitching.

Find where your weight and height meet. That’s the recommended length for your bat.

Construction

You’ll also want to consider bat construction and material. For example, one-piece bats are a singular piece of metal molded into a bat. They generally have a stiff feel that barely flexes when contact is made resulting in more power. Bigger, stronger players who have a faster bat speed make the best use of these bats. A two-piece bat is built by bonding a handle and barrel together. This process allows the bat to flex more which is perfect for contact hitters who are looking for a little more power in their game.

A two-piece bat combines two separate pieces to give you more flex.
A one-piece bat is a single piece of material shaped into form.

Material

The aluminum vs composite choice is a little simpler. Composite bats are made using layered material which results in a larger sweet spot but requires a longer break-in period. The process for making this type of bat is more complex which leads it to be more expensive. Aluminum bats have been around longer than composite bats and, though they have a smaller sweet spot, there is no break-in period and they tend to be more durable.

When shopping for your perfect bat make sure to check out Eastbay. Our large selection ensures that no matter what length, weight, piece, or material you decide on we will have a bat for you. Head to eastbay.com now to start browsing.