Getting on first isn’t easy. Being first is even harder. I knew it was big news when I saw the video of Olivia Pichardo (#19) becoming the first female to hit a home run in the Hamptons, but her accomplishment isn’t breaking ground by herself—big things are happening in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League.
Sometimes in sports, we can see the culmination of success as an event and not as part of a journey. Look up “Gritty New York Athlete” in the dictionary, and you’ll find a picture of Olivia Picardo. Olivia’s passion for baseball and standout academic performance have led to big things for the Forest Hills, NY native.
Before this first, Olivia was the first female on an NCAA Division 1 Baseball roster after making the US National Baseball Team. At just 19 years old and a rising sophomore at Brown University, hitting her first (and the first) home run in the Hamptons is an early inning for Olivia.
Instead of focusing on Olivia’s homerun being the first – what I found immediately more interesting is how she got here. “Olivia is a baller, just a get-it-done attitude. She’s probably at the park right now,” beams League Commissioner and MLB Liason Sandi Kruel. “Olivia’s homerun being first is a big deal, but we know how much work and drive built up to that hit, so we’re most excited about what comes next. We know with Olivia, that is something special.”
What struck me about Olivia’s absolute line-drive, centerfield CrrRrR-ACK (like a comic book punch sound) wasn’t just the velocity and form of her swing—I’ll admit I got cut from the tee-ball team—but the equally seismic eruption of joy and support from her teammates.
Sandi had the same reaction, “I was watching the game sitting next to Olivia’s mother, and when she hit that ball, both of us started balling. I don’t even think Olivia knew it was going to get out of there because she put her head down and kept running. When I saw how her teammates reacted, I might have missed her getting home.”
Rumor around the league is that Olivia doesn’t give interviews during the playoffs, which the Whalers are currently playing against the South Shore Clippers. In an effort to respect the outfielder’s wishes, we’ll catch up with her after the season; everyone I spoke with about her says Olivia is quick to humility, focused on the future, and not celebrating the past.
I went to a game this week, it was everything you could imagine, plus grilled-to-order hot dogs. More to come, so be sure to look out for my article about the league; it’s genuinely fascinating and worth a deep dive.
For now, in a message through her sponsor Warstic, Olivia says, “Your attitude really does matter. You can’t throw a fit after you strike out. You just need to fix your attitude and keep going.”