As of right now, Ria Cortesio is the only female umpire in American pro baseball, and she's been doing it for nine years - primarily in class A and AA.
She umped a major league exhibition game at the start of this season, the first woman to do so in 20 years. She also umped the All-Star Futures game last year.
"Until I work a regular-season Major League baseball game, I haven't done anything," Cortesio said, "I don't want to be a pioneer. I just want to do my job."
The interesting fact is that there has never been a female umpire who made it to the majors. And the question is why? Certainly female umpires are a lot rarer than male umpires (there have only been 5 total in baseball's history including Cortesio), but it's not like they haven't existed at all.
In fact, Pam Postema, who ended her career in 1996, spent 13 years in the minors - seven of them in AAA.
Although often considered a prospect for major league umpiring, Postema never received the call until 1988, when Baseball Commissioner Bart Giamatti offered her a contract to officiate at the MLB level during spring training. Later that year, Giamatti also offered her a chance to umpire at the "Hall of Fame Game" between the New York Yankess and the Atlanta Braves.
Both opportunities looked promising, but Giamatti died soon thereafter in 1989, and Postema never again got the chance to umpire in the major leagues. In December of 1989, the Triple-A Alliance cancelled Postema's contract after 13 years of well-regarded experience in the minor leagues. She then filed a sex-discrimination lawsuit at the federal level, which was settled out of court.In 1992, Postema published a book entitled You've Gotta Have Balls to Make It In This League.
Judging by Postema's experience, Cortesio has a mountain to climb despite her nine years of experience. Cortesio has yet to even ump at the AAA level.
So what's the conclusion? I think it's pretty simple. Baseball would prefer not see women umps in the majors.
But let's hope Cortesio can bust through.