PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Brown University freshman Olivia Pichardo made history last month, becoming the first woman to appear in a Division I baseball game.
The 18-year-old from Queens, New York, has since received national recognition for the milestone.
Among everyone who reached out to her, Pichardo said the coolest was when she got a text from Buck Showalter, the manager of the New York Mets.
“Yeah, that was a complete shock,” she told 12 Sports.
Baseball isn’t a common sport for girls to play growing up — normally they play softball. Now other young women are looking up to Pichardo as a role model.
“It’s still kind of surreal to me that I’m actually in that position and that there are some girls who are looking up to me,” she said. “I think that it’s kind of weird.”
Sometimes Pichardo says she even forgets it’s not common she plays baseball.
“I really like it when they reach out to me asking for advice or something,” she continued. “I’m really happy to share anything that I might be able to help them with.”
Pichardo acknowledges she wouldn’t be in the position she is in today if it weren’t for the women who made it far in baseball before her.
Nearly 20 women have been named to baseball rosters at the college level, but none in Division I. That’s according to Baseball for All, a nonprofit that advocates for women’s opportunities to play and coach baseball.
Kim Ng, general manager of the Miami Marlins and the highest-ranking female baseball executive, is one of her role models.
“[I would tell my younger self to just] relax. Everything is going to turn out just fine,” she said. “Just keep working hard and everything that you’re doing isn’t for nothing … there is an end goal, and I probably wouldn’t tell myself that I reached it.”
The helmet Pichardo wore in her first Division I appearance is heading to Cooperstown to be part of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s collection.