#Shortstops: Haller's baseball journey took her all the way to Cooperstown

Part of the SHORT STOPS series
Written by: Isabelle Minasian

Jodi Haller’s journey began on the baseball diamonds in Kersey, Pa., but her talent and determination would later take her across the world.

Haller embraced baseball from an early age, practicing with her father and two brothers in their backyard in Northern Pennsylvania.

Years later, when asked about what made her focus on baseball rather than softball, she would tell Randy Skubek of The Latrobe Bulletin that she’d “Never even considered playing softball. I like the challenge of baseball.”

Her high school alma mater, Elk County Christian, lacked a baseball team of its own, so Haller grew up playing on Little League and American Legion teams.

She augmented that training with stints at Shippensburg University Baseball Camp and the Doyle Baseball School in Florida.

After graduation, the left-hander took her talents to St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., where she became the first woman to ever pitch in a college game, and the third to play college baseball.

“She throws the ball over the plate and is probably one of the best bunters on the team,” commented St. Vincent Head Coach Frank Newell. “She’s a nice kid who has a good attitude and works hard.”

Haller would later transfer to Shippensburg University, where she graduated with a degree in biology in 1994.

Her baseball career did not end in Pennsylvania, however. In 1995 Haller enrolled in Meiji University, a private college in Tokyo, Japan.

While studying economics, the lefty added her name to the history books once more, this time as the first female college player in Japan’s history.

More than 7,000 fans turned out to watch her debut at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, where she threw 1 2/3 innings and Meiji went on to beat Tokyo 4-0.

In an interview with the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Haller discussed the culture shock of her move to Japan and the impact of her presence on the field. “Let’s put it this way, women aren’t even allowed in the dugout as scorekeepers, so I’m getting a lot of support from them.”

Upon her return to the United States, Haller turned her focus from pitching to academia.

While at Colorado State University, she earned her Master’s degree in Neuroanatomy and Physiology, and her PhD in Biomedical Sciences.

Recently, Haller generously donated some personal effects to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, which commemorate two significant moments in the history of women in baseball.

Her No. 1 Bearcats jersey, along with the matching green and yellow cap, from her historic tenure at St. Vincent College have been added to the archives. Haller also donated a pair of her cleats and a game-used ball from her time as a pitcher at Meiji University.

Isabelle Minasian was the digital content specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Part of the SHORT STOPS series