The Detroit Tigers played their first exhibition game of the spring on Thursday, besting Florida Southern by a 6-1 score.
The contest's most notable aspect had less to do with the result or the players and more to do with the home-plate umpire. That's because Jen Pawol, a 41-year-old who spent last season umpiring in the minors, got her first taste of big-league action.
Here's more on Pawol, courtesy of Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:
It's been a long, hard journey for Pawol, a native of New York state. She spent more than a decade umpiring Division I baseball and softball before being "discovered" at a clinic in 2015.
"There were major league umpires there, and they were watching me for five days," she said. "It was a college baseball clinic and I was just going through the drills. The fifth day, one of the MLB guys pulled me over, sat me down with another umpire and said, 'Would you be interested in going into professional baseball?
Pawol expects to continue to work Grapefruit League games over the next month. It's not yet known where she'll call games during the minor-league season. Pawol is currently one of two women serving as umpires in professional baseball. The other is Emma Charlesworth-Seiler, who spent last summer calling Gulf Coast League games.
In 2015, Lucy McCalmont reported that baseball had zero women in the umpiring system, and that just one woman had attended minor-league umpire school since its creation. McCalmont estimated that it would be at least six years before Major League Baseball employed a woman umpire -- largely due to the lack of women, but also because of the time it takes to make the leap. Some minor-league umpires, McCalmont noted, have to wait as long as 10 years.
A lack of diversity across various positions -- umpires, managers, front office executives, and so on -- remains one of baseball's most glaring problems.