5 October 98
I was watching 60 Minutes last night and there is something I would
like to say to my nieces:
Ila Borders pitches for the Dukes, a professional baseball team. She isn't the best pitcher in professional baseball, but she does have a ranking as a professional baseball player, something she wouldn't have if she had limited herself to playing only among women. Oh, sure, she'd probably have a much higher ranking if women were her only competitors, but, this way, among those professionals, the ranking has absolute meaning. Because of that, Ila knows where she stands among the professional baseball players, in the world of professional baseball. And that ranking can't be taken away from her; she earned it. And her competitors and fellow players have to recognize and respect that ranking because she earned it on their terms, in the same way each of them earned their rankings. She may not be the number one player in baseball, but even if she ranked dead last in the leagues, she'd still outrank every man and woman who didn't compete among the professionals. And that makes all the difference.
In the interview, Ila Borders said that her hero is Jackie Robinson, the first black Major League player. She said it was comforting to know that there was someone who had gone before her who had to face and overcome the same kinds of obstacles and prejudices she faces now as the first woman player in professional baseball. She says it helps to read his biography and learn how he handled it.
I admire Jackie Robinson , too, but my personal hero is Satchel Paige. In his time, he was the oldest rookie in Major League Baseball. At the age of 59 he pitched for the last time: three shutout innings for the Kansas City Athletics. When I feel discouraged and "too old," I remember Satchel and it gives me back my determination-- and hope. As he remarked, "Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."
We stand on the shoulders of giants. Thank you, Jackie. Thank you, Satchel. And thank you, too, Ila.
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