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MLB announces inaugural Trailblazer Series to celebrate girls baseball

Workers put the finishing touches on a scoreboard at the MLB Youth Academy in Compton.
Workers put the finishing touches on a scoreboard at the MLB Youth Academy in Compton.
(Karen Tapia-Andersen / Los Angeles Times)
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Major League Baseball’s early-season celebration is about to become grander.

MLB and USA Baseball announced Thursday the inaugural Trailblazer Series, a three-day girls’ baseball tournament in Compton in conjunction with Jackie Robinson Day.

“In memory of Jackie Robinson, Major League Baseball is committed to making our sport accessible and inclusive for all those who want to play, coach or participate,” said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. “MLB and USA Baseball have listened to the growing demand for girls’ and women’s baseball by launching this unprecedented event. We will be proud to do so on the most meaningful date on our calendar, Jackie Robinson Day, at our Youth Academy in Compton. It is our honor to support trailblazing young women who will be outstanding representatives of their communities.”

Approximately 100 girls, ages 16 and under, representing 20 states, the District of Columbia and Canada, are set to play ball in the first-of-its-kind tournament starting April 13. The tournament is scheduled to conclude on April 15, 70 years to the day when Dodger legend Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the major leagues.

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Girls will be divided into two age divisions and placed into teams by random selection. Teams will be coached by some of the nation’s top female baseball coaches and players, including players from USA Baseball’s women’s national team.

Teams are named for notable members of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which ran from 1943 through 1954. AAGPBL alums include Shirley “Hustle” Burkovich, Doris “Sammye” Sams, Dorothy “Dottie” Kamenshek and Maybelle “Mae” Blair. Burkovich and Blair will throw out first pitches during the tournament.

Other notable attendees include Robinson’s daughter, Sharon, Olympic gold medalist Jennie Finch, and MLB senior vice president for baseball operations Kim Ng.

“The establishment of the Trailblazer Series marks an exciting next chapter in the history of women’s baseball,” said Paul Seiler, executive director and CEO of USA Baseball. “We’re proud to partner with Major League Baseball on yet another impactful amateur initiative, one that aligns with and supports our Women’s National Team programming, which has represented our country in the Women’s World Cup since its inaugural event in 2004.”

Twitter: @edmgonzalez

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eduardo.gonzalez@latimes.com

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