Softball Ace Pitcher Monica Abbott Signs Record $1 Million Contract
Professional softball has a million dollar pitcher in Monica Abbott.
Monica Abbott is the most dominant force in women’s softball and one of the most dominant athletes in sports, now she has a contract that reflects exactly that. Abbott signed an unprecedented six-year, $1 million deal with the Houston-area Scrap Yard Dawgs of National Pro Fastpitch. Abbott’s contract is a huge leap forward for the women in NPF and for all female athletes. In the 13-year history of the NPF no player has ever inked a contract worth anywhere near Abbott’s. Most players in today’s NPF earn in the low-to-mid four figures for the three-month season; with a select few earning around $20,000.
The Scrap Yard Dawgs may be an expansion team, but with general manager Connie May, the Dawgs aren’t the least bit hesitant to spend money and grab headlines. Scrap Yard has the advantage of owning the stadium they play in, owning the facility the stadium sits on, and owning over half a dozen more nearby baseball and softball fields, with more on the way. May is a long time familiar face in women’s softball. Her daughter was a star softball standout and is on the roster for Scrap Yard. Part of the motivation behind the contract is clearly to advance and legitimize women’s professional softball in the U.S. Currently U.S. stars typically have to take second jobs at home or go play abroad in Japan in order to make a living as a professional softball athlete. May clearly wanted to make a statement; that Scrap Yard was here to compete and that the women in the NPF are worth watching.
“The only way the pro level becomes what it needs to become is to give it some real merit and some real validity, get some real corporate backing behind it,” May said. “That’s not going to be payday for us. Payday for me, putting Monica on the field, is winning. I like to win. And if I can win, I’m happy. And it fits into Monica’s mission, what we’re doing out at the park, because it’s empowering women. That’s the statement Monica wants to make.”
The bulk of Abbott’s contract is based on attendance incentives. As ESPN explains:
“Teams in the NPF must squeeze rosters of at least 18 players within a salary cap of $150,000. Few players earn more than $20,000. Most make low-to-mid-four figures for the three-month season. To fit that structure, Abbott’s deal pays her a base salary of $20,000 for each of the next six seasons, with attendance bonuses making up the rest. It will not be difficult to meet the bonuses, triggered when attendance for a small number of games reaches 100 fans, home or away and whether or not Abbott pitches.”
Abbott’s performance on the mound is as impressive as her six-foot-three frame. She holds NCAA softball records for strikeouts, shutouts and wins; she is the first player to a pitch a perfect game in the Olympics; she’s a three-time National Pro Fastpitch league champion; and she has the NPF speed record with a 77 miles-per-hour pitch. In 2015 she led the league with an impressive 0.31 ERA and only allowed 4 earned runs all season.
A million dollars makes a catchy headline and Monica Abbott welcomes the extra attention her contract brings. The NPF needs a face to promote their league. With the popularity of the US Womens National Soccer Team, the WNBA, tennis stars like Serena Williams, and the start of a woman’s professional hockey league, the NWHL, it’s time for professional softball to make it’s push. The popularity of professional sports leagues tends to depend on the popularity and marketability of it’s players. Men’s basketball had Michael Jordan, women’s soccer had Mia Hamm, women’s basketball started with Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie, and Rebecca Lobo and now women’s softball has Monica Abbott. A million dollar contract in a league where everyone else makes three to four figures, creates intrigue around Abbott and sets her apart as someone special to watch. At this point in NPF’s history they need a player like Abbott to stand out from the rest to create the fan interest in the sport. Let’s hope one day all the NPF players get the attention they deserve, but for now let’s hope Abbott and her contract can lead the NPF towards a bigger future and increased fan base.