Dana Bookman’s daughter loves baseball, but she was less enthusiastic about being the only girl out of 400 kids in her age division. Sensing a need, Bookman founded Toronto Girls Baseball in 2016, the only all-girls baseball league in Canada. Bookman’s since expanded to Manitoba and Nova Scotia.
Bookman searched for an all-girls league in Toronto and discovered that none existed for younger girls. In fact, while there are all-girls leagues in Canada for sports like hockey and soccer, girls baseball leagues are a rarity. “Baseball feels like the last frontier,” Bookman said, adding that girls have traditionally been limited in baseball and pushed into softball, which uses a bigger and softer ball.
“Baseball powers think that girls have softball and boys have baseball, and they think that’s the equivalent, but baseball and softball are as different as hockey and ringette,” said Bookman.
So the mom of two decided to start her own league and founded Toronto Girls Baseball in 2016. Through word of mouth and social media, she recruited 42 girls and created four teams. Just one year later, the league ballooned to 350 girls, with 32 teams playing in four parks across the Greater Toronto Area. This year, she’s expecting around 400 players. The league’s success inspired Bookman to launch all-girls leagues in Manitoba and Nova Scotia this year, each operating out of two separate locations.
“My goal is to bring this program for girls baseball to every city in every province across the country,” said Bookman. To that end, she has also created the Canadian Women’s Baseball Association.