Ila Borders never played for the Boston Red Sox or the Texas Rangers. She never played with a team linked to Major League Baseball. She did, however, play parts of four seasons with independent league baseball teams. On this day in 1997, Ila Borders made her professional debut with the St. Paul Saints, becoming one of the first woman to play in integrated men's baseball. Toni Stone and several other women played in the negro leagues.
Though Borders never played on a major league team, she did play with several former major leaguers. Esteban Beltre is the only former teammate to have played with the Red Sox, Rangers, and Saints while Ila Borders was a teammate. Perhaps her most famous teammate was JD Drew, who at the time was holding out for a larger signing bonus with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Ila Borders struggled through much of her brief career to find consistency to her pitching style. It wasn't until her third season that she found some semblance of success. Using an approach where she consistently threw three innings per start, she had a 1.67 ERA over 15 games. Her success didn't translate into looks from big league clubs, and she decided to retire during the 2000 season.
Over the last few weeks, there has been a lot of talk about various Red Sox players finding ways to improve their game. Whether video hitting coach Dustin Pedroia helps out Mike Napoli and Hanley Ramirez, or David Ortiz takes a few days off to work on his swing, it seems the entire team is looking for ways to improve their game.
You have to wonder if one of Ila Borders teammates with MLB experience chimed in with support on how her career could improve, or just ways to make things stick a bit better. Chances are it was a combination of things. Since we're allowed to think outside the box, I'm going to go out on a limb and say the pitching staff rallied around the first female in modern day baseball to find ways to keep her career going. Just like I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the Red Sox are having team meetings to sort out how they can right the ship before it's too late.