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Ila Jean Borders with Jean Hastings Ardell: Making My Pitch: A Woman's Baseball Odyssey

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Ila Jean Borders with Jean Hastings Ardell: Making My Pitch: A Woman's Baseball Odyssey

The first woman to play men's collegiate baseball shares her memoir, discussing the challenges of being a groundbreaking pioneer and achieving self-acceptance.

Making My Pitch: A Woman's Baseball Odyssey tells the story of Ila Jane Borders, who despite formidable obstacles became a Little League prodigy, MVP of her otherwise all-male middle school and high school teams, the first woman awarded a baseball scholarship, and the first to pitch and win a complete men's collegiate game. After Mike Veeck signed Borders in May 1997 to pitch for his St. Paul Saints of the independent Northern League, she accomplished what no woman had done since the Negro Leagues era: play men's professional baseball. Borders played four professional seasons and in 1998 became the first woman in the modern era to win a professional ball game.

Borders had to find ways to fit in with her teammates, reassure their wives and girlfriends, work with the media, and fend off groupies. But these weren't the toughest challenges. She had a troubled family life, a difficult adolescence as she struggled with her sexual orientation, and an emotionally fraught college experience as a closeted gay athlete at a Christian university.

Making My Pitch shows what it's like to be the only woman on the team bus, in the clubhouse, and on the field. Raw, open, and funny at times, her story encompasses the loneliness of a groundbreaking pioneer who experienced grave personal loss. Borders ultimately relates how she achieved self-acceptance and created a life as a firefighter and paramedic and as a coach and goodwill ambassador for the game of baseball.

ILA JANE BORDERS is the first woman to get a scholarship to play men's collegiate baseball. She was also the first female to get a win in men's collegiate baseball and have a complete game victory. She played 4 years of men's professional baseball, mostly in the independent Northern League. She has been honored twice at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and was inducted in 2003 into the Baseball Reliquary's Shrine of the Eternals. Ila is an international baseball coach for the IBSAF and is a firefighter/paramedic in the greater Portland area.

JEAN HASTINGS ARDELL is the author of Breaking into Baseball: Women and the National Pastime, which appeared on the Los Angeles Times bestsellers list. She is the co-chair of the NINE Spring Training Conference, held each March in Tempe, Arizona, which attracts baseball historians and scholars. At the Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, she chairs the session "Skirting the Game," which focuses on women in baseball. Her baseball writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Sporting News, and many other publications. She frequently speaks to university students, book clubs, libraries, and museums on the subject of women and baseball.
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