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Ila Borders Biography

Dreamed Of Pitching Professionally, Played In Men's Minor League, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments


American baseball player

The pitcher Ila Borders broke baseball's gender barrier in 1997, when she became the first woman to

Ila Borders

pitch in the men's minor leagues. Accomplishing a goal she had set since girlhood, Borders pitched her first professional game, for the Northern League's St. Paul Saints, on May 31, 1997. In her three years in the minor leagues, earning from $700 to $1,000 a month, Borders played for the St. Paul Saints, the Duluth-Superior Dukes, the Madison Black Wolf, and the Zion Pioneerzz. She had her share of victories—including 12 scoreless innings during her 1998 season with the Dukes—and her share of defeats. When she retired in 2000, Borders left an important legacy as baseball's first professional female player, and as a hero and role model for other women who aspire to play the men's sport.

Ila Borders was born on February 18, 1975, in Downey, California. One of four children, she was raised in La Miranda, a suburb of Los Angeles. Her father, Phil, was a former minor league baseball player who painted cars; her mother ran a preschool. Baseball was a family pastime that grew into a passion for the little girl. "Every Saturday and Sunday, from the time I was 5, my whole family would play ball," Borders told Larry Oakes of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "My dad basically taught me everything: the mental part, the control, how to call a game, how to take care of my arm."

Sketch by Wendy Kagan

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsBaseball