The Closest A Woman Has Gotten To A Roster Spot On A Professional (Traditionally Male) Sports Team

Watching the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, I’m surprised that none of these women on the USWNT have day jobs on any professional team outside of women’s leagues. Megan Rapinoe is probably a better player, overall, than the worst (male) MLS player, or even the worst (male) player in a top-flight European league.

Simlarly, there’s no legitimate reason that I can think of that Mon’e Davis (sp?) wouldn’t be able to at least try out for a minor league roster spot five or so years from now.

Has any female athlete ever been in serious contention for a roster spot on a traditionally male team in a major professional sport?

Manon Rheaume was some level of “in contention” at times.

Rapinoe isn’t even remotely close to the worst MLS player, unless perhaps he’s badly injured. Watching her play against other women is making you misread her speed and physicality.

Patricia Palinkas played professional (American) football in 1970 as the holder for the Orlando Panthers - her husband was the placekicker. In 2010, Katie Hnida became the second woman to play professional football when she was the kicker for the Fort Wayne Firehawks.

The best female football(soccer) player of all time could not be a benchwarmer in Peru’s district level championship, non-professional.

An all-star female team could not beat the U-15 champions. It’s not even close.

She’s who I thought of. I remember her stopping a Brett Hull shot in an exhibition game. Stopping a shot from the early 90s vintage Hull was no small feat.

Wiki says she played for several IHL teams:

I can - she played against boys that mainly haven’t hit puberty yet. (The oldest (legal, anyway) player in Little League last year couldn’t be more than 13 1/3; anyone who is 13 on April 30 (it used to be July 31) is ineligible to play Little League that year.) The better girls can still hold their own with most boys at that point. I think the main reason you don’t see more girls at Williamsport is, a lot of the better athletes just aren’t interested in baseball, especially with the pressure to “specialize” in sports like soccer, basketball, and softball where their talents will be useful in high school and college.

In 2003 AC Perugia (then playing in Serie A) reportedly tried to sign Swedish women’s player Hannah Ljunberg (then regarded as one of the best female players in the World) and when that fell through declared their interest in another female player, but nothing ever materialized on that front. However this was widely regarded as a publicity stunt by a club that had become a circus (probably including by Ljunberg herself, which is probably why she didn’t sign for them). They ended up signing one of Colonel Qaddafi’s sons instead and not long after were relegated and imploded financially.

Men have such a physical advantage over women and men’s soccer is so far ahead of women’s soccer in terms of skill and speed of play that I doubt a player like Rapinoe could make the grade for a semi-pro men’s team.

Ila Borders is probably the closest in baseball. She pitched for a couple of pro men’s teams in independent baseball leagues. However, her performance was never good enough to get her a look with a major league team.

Don’t forget Jackie Mitchell, who struck out Ruth & Gehrig on a total of seven pitches. It took Commissioner Landis to keep her out of organized baseball.

Looking at the womens the standards are pretty absymal.There is no way in hell any of them could even approach even a lower level mens league.

She wouldn’t get near SC Freiburg’s academy.

in 2003, Hayley Wickenheiser of Saskatchewan played for a Finnish men’s professional team, albeit not in the top tier of Finnish leagues:

None in the following examples. However, still worth a mention…
[li]Penny Ann Early, November 28, 1968 (Thanksgiving), “played” for the Kentucky Colonels of the American Basketball Association. She passed the ball in to teammate Bobby Rascoe, who immediately called a time out. Concurrently (and coincidentally?), near Chicago, was the first national Women’s Liberation Conference (see here and here).[/li][li]LPGA Women Who Played on the PGA Tour include Babe Zaharias, Annika Sörenstam, Suzy Whaley, and Michelle Wie.[/li][/ul]
Other sports have different traditions. For example, there is Mixed (“coed”) curling per Wikipedia here. But, regardless of teams, there are currently no women in professional sumo (see here).

Well, if we’re going to get into non-team sports, a woman has played on the men’s pro bowlers tour, and we have a female race car driver out there amongst the men.

Of all the sports, one of the women versions that best resembles the male version his soccer; but make no mistake, no woman could ever make a MLS roster. Anyone that says so is trying to denigrate soccer as being a “sissy” sport.

Julie Krone is the most successful of a number of female jockeys, while Shirley Muldowney dominated drag racing in the 1970s.

Not “major league” by any stretch, but placekicker Julie Harshbarger has played for the Chicago team in several minor-league (but professional) indoor football leagues, and was the CIFL Special Teams Player of the Year in 2014.

How about Ann Meyers Drysdale?

“In 1980, Meyers made NBA history when she signed a $50,000 no-cut contract with NBA’s Indiana Pacers. She participated in three-day tryouts for the team, the first by any woman for the NBA, but eventually was not chosen for the final squad.”

I’m not saying it can’t be done, but the huge post-puberty differences in strength, endurance and speed between men and women would tend to make it very difficult in sports that rely on those attributes.

In other things, like say, hockey goaltending, that rely on hand-eye coordination and/or quickness, there’s no reason women can’t compete. Same goes for sports that prioritize small size, like ultramarathons. Interestingly, in ultramarathons, women routinely win, and the harder the race, the better women do relative to men.