I’m sure I mentioned this back in the day when I was writing for Bleacher Bums, but the best baseball player in my family of five kids was my sister. I’m guessing if we dragged our aged bodies out to the diamond behind the family estate again — we’re all in our ’50s, except for my brother who turns 60 tomorrow — she’d still be the best player.
I’m thinking about this today because the Collins clan wouldn’t think twice of this item in the news: Japanese 16-year-old girl signs professional baseball contract.
The Cruise are more like a farm team and a far cry from Japan’s mainstream pro teams such as the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants. But the 5-foot, 114-pound Yoshida has broken a barrier in baseball-crazy Japan, where women are normally relegated to amateur, company-sponsored teams or to softball.
Yoshida, who started playing baseball when she was in second grade, said she wants to emulate Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield, who has built a successful major league career as a knuckleballer.
We’ll ignore the obvious, cheap joke that one could make about Tim Wakefield here and step into the News Cut Wayback Machine. Set the machine for 1997. Destination? St. Paul, Minnesota.
Ila Borders was signed by the St. Paul Saints as a pitcher. She wasn’t very good, but so what? She was the first woman pitcher on an integrated men’s professional baseball team. Eventually, she was shipped off to Duluth. She was also the first woman to pitch for an NCAA men’s team.
At last check —
1993 2003 — she was training to be a firefighter.