In a historic moment for the MLB, Jen Pawol made her debut as an umpire in a major league spring training game, breaking a glass ceiling that has lasted since 2007 when a woman last umpired a game. Pawol's debut took place during the Grapefruit League opener between the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals on Saturday. Pawol was positioned at third base.

Pawol became the seventh woman to umpire a minor league baseball game eight years ago – traversing a long path from her days as a high school softball star in New Jersey and a player at Hofstra to breaking into a domain traditionally dominated by men.

“I greatly appreciate everyone's enthusiasm, everyone's welcoming attitude on the field,” Pawol said, per the Associated Press. “Tonight was very, very special. Both managers shared congratulations, (everyone was) welcoming, enthusiastic. The players on the field, so many said ‘congrats' and ‘great to see you up here.' A gentleman, Javier (Bracamonte, Astros bullpen coach), he ran out early in the game and said he has a daughter playing all kinds of sports — it's good to see you out here.”

Nationals manager Dave Martinez also took a moment to congratulate her before the game started.

Pawol's debut represents a step forward in the ongoing effort to diversify and include more women in professional sports officiating roles. MLB's history with female umpires is sparse, with Pam Postema breaking ground in the 1970s and 1980s and Ria Cortesio last umpiring a spring training game in 2007. Women officiants in the MLB came 27 years after the NBA first allowed female game officials, nine years following the NFL and two years after a woman refereed at the men's soccer World Cup.

Pawol will umpire in Palm Beach County over the next few weeks, including a stint behind the plate for the Nationals-Marlins game on Sunday. Despite the attention, she remains focused on her work and the opportunities ahead. Her approach is pragmatic, emphasizing hard work, preparation and the importance of performing well in each game she officiates.

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“Tomorrow I got to get out there and do it all over again,” she said. “That's my next job. Anybody in baseball will tell you to keep it simple and work hard, put your all into it and get ready for the next day.”

“This is a viable career becoming a professional umpire – men and women, girls and boys … I didn't know that the first several years when I got into umpiring in amateur ball for 10 years,” Pawol added. “It's in myy DNA. Once I started umpiring, I said this is for me.”