Ila Borders, the first woman to play professional baseball in the USA since the 1950s, is willing to play in the WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup 2018. Baseball America broke the news with an article by Managing Editor J.J. Cooper.
Borders will have to make the team she has served as the pitching coach and at age 42 it may not be a simple task to accomplish. Still, according to Baseball America, she was recently up to a velocity of 78 mph, not so far from the peak velocity of her best days.
Born in February 1975, Ila Borders was the first woman to receive a baseball scholarship. She played for Southern California College (1994-1996) and Whittier College (1997) and became the first woman to earn a win in mens’s collegiate baseball. She went on to sign for the St Paul Saints of the independent Northern League for the 1997 season. One month into the regular season, and after early struggles, she was traded to the Duluth Superior Dukes. She returned to Duluth for the 1998 season and was given a chance to start (7 July 1998): the first woman in professional baseball. Her first victory came on 24 July: 3-1, against Sioux Falls Canaries.
In 1999 she didn’t get along with new Dukes manager and was traded to the Madison Black Wolf (today the Lincoln Salt Dogs). She pitched in 15 games from the bullpen, posting a 1.67 ERA: the best figures of her career.
During the Winter of 1999. Ila Borders was in talks with the Cincinnati Reds for an invitation to their Spring Training. Owner Marge Schott decided that the presence of Borders at Camp could have been a distraction for the team and the left hander was never given a chance.
Borders was then cut in Spring Training by the Black Wolf, headed to the Western League (Zion Pioneerzz) but was out of baseball by the end of the season.
When asked to comment her disappointment after being refused the invitation by the Reds, she told Baseball America: “I let that defeat me. That was totally my fault”.
Ila Borders recently published the book Making My Pitch: A Woman’s Baseball Odyssey, co authored with Jean Hastings Ardell.