Spring training 2024: Female umpire Jen Pawol makes big league debut

Jen Pawol calls the game from behind home plate during the game between the Scottsdale Scorpions and the Glendale Desert Dogs at Camelback Ranch on Thursday, October 5, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Zac BonDurant/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Female umpire Jen Pawol is one step closer to the Majors after making her debut Saturday in MLB spring training games.

Pawol is the first woman since 2007 to get a spring training assignment, according to the league, putting her one step closer to becoming the first female umpire in Major League Baseball

The 47-year-old was scheduled to the bases during Houston’s exhibition against Washington in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Pawol has been a minor league ump since 2016 and worked her way up to the highest minor level last year, when she was behind the plate for the Triple-A Championship game.

Her spring training assignment could get her a spot on the MLB call-up list, which is made up exclusively of umpires that were assigned to spring training. 

The MLB looks to that list when they need a fill-in or additional umpires during the regular season. 

Last year, 21 of the 26 umpires that were assigned full spring training schedules were later assigned to the call-up list. All worked at least one assignment — either on the field or in the video review control room — with one fill-in getting 149 big league assignments, according to The Associated Press.

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The MLB’s move of putting Pawol one step closer towards working a major league game comes 27 years after the gender barrier for game officials was broken in the NBA, nine years after it ended the NFL and two years after soccer's World Cup employed a female referee.

Meanwhile, Pawol is one of nine women scheduled to work on-field roles in the Minor Leagues this season. 

This story was reported from Detroit. The Associated Press contributed.