Monica Abbott, a standout performer at the International Down Under Series in Sydney this year, has created sporting history by signing a $1 million contract with a US team.
The Houston-area Scrap Yard Dawgs, National Pro Fastpitch’s newest team, recently signed Abbott to a six-year contract expected to pay her $1 million. It is the first million-dollar contract in the history of NPF, which is about to begin its 13th season.
The contract is believed to be the most lucrative paid by a professional team to a female athlete in any team sport.
Australians such as Stacey Porter and her Pennsylvania Rebellion teammate Taylah Tsitsikronis will face the challenge of dealing with Abbott, a 193cm left-hander reputed to be the world’s fastest pitcher.
Australian fans had a chance to see Abbott in action when she pitched for the Red Terriers at Blacktown International Sportspark in January. They the saw the dream match-up with Spirit captain Porter taking on Abbott in a head-to- head battle. The pair squared off twice, with Abbott taking the first round by striking out Porter, and then Porter evening the score with a walk.
Abbott holds NCAA records for strikeouts, shutouts and wins. In 2008, she became the first player to a pitch a perfect game in the Olympics. She’s a three-time National Pro Fastpitch league champion and in 2012 set a NPF speed record with a 77 mph pitch (approx 123 kpm).
Her contract over the three-month season is unique. Abbott reportedly will make a regular salary of $20,000 per season to fit into the league’s salary cap of $150,000 per team. She can make the remainder of her money – estimated at $150,000 per season – by reaching easy bonus incentives triggered by attendance figures.
“I think it’s a proud moment for National Pro Fastpitch,” league commissioner Cheri Kempf said. “But I think it goes further than that. I think it’s a proud moment for women in professional sports in this country. I feel glad that it’s happening in the league. I’m glad that we’re going to lead the way, in some respects.”
Abbott, who previously played for the Chicago Bandits, said she hoped the contract would help future generations of softball players. “In my mind, it represents an opportunity for the younger players in our game,” she told ABC news.
“The pro league, it’s continued to grow year in and year out. And even with my Bandits teammates, we were constantly talking about creating a future for the next generation. For me, that’s what I see in this deal.”
The Monica Abbott file
|Date of birth||July 28, 2985|
|Born||Santa Cruz, California|