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Changing History

by Russell Dyas

In Plant City, like most American cities there is a local little league team. In this place however the star pitcher is 12 year old Chelsea Baker who has recently thrown her second perfect game.  I am sure she will follow in the footsteps of other women players such as Eri Yoshida and play baseball professionally.

With that in mind I thought this week I would highlight some people who are associated with the game that have been trail blazers.  We all know the likes of Jackie Robinson however there are many other people who have advanced the game.

Mr. Hernández Nodar

Nodar spent 13 years in a Cuban jail. The only crime he committed was to help Cuban baseball players defect to the USA. He spent nearly all of his sentence at the Combinado del Este prison; a notorious prison known for its many human rights violations.

The story reads like a movie plot and includes lows such as Nodar spending 15 months in Solitary Confinement for cheering the USA baseball team. As well as the negative there were positive times such as the friendship he forged with a fellow prisoner Rolando Alberro Arroyo who taught him the ‘ways of prison’. The friendship is one so strong Nodar owes Albeero his life when he protected Nodar from orders of being killed from fellow prison inmates . Nodar since his release has vowed “For each year I spent behind bars, I vow to get one Cuban player into the U.S.,”. The story is one of human hope and I am sure someone will turn it into a movie.

Ila Borders

Borders was the first female to start a men’s NCAA or NAIA college baseball game and she became one of the first females to be part of the men’s professional game. She signed up for the St. Paul Saints of the independent Northern League and her first game was May 31, 1997 against the Sioux Falls Canaries. After a career moving around the various minor league teams, she retired mid way through the 2000 season. Over her minor league career, she was 2-4 with a 6.73 ERA.

Toni Stone

Stone was one of the first women to play in the Negro League. A graduate from Roosevelt High School she started playing professionally in 1949 with the San Francisco Sea Lions.  Unfortunately she was not welcomed by her fellow players and In her words she spent most of her time on the bench with people who hated her. She once described it as “hell”.  She retired after the 1954 season and moved to Oakland, California to work as a nurse and care for her sick husband. Stone died on November 2nd 1996 aged 75.

Stone’s most memorable baseball moment was against the legendary Satchel Paige in 1953 in her own words, “He was so good. That he would ask batters where they wanted it, just so they would have a chance and I said,’ It doesn’t matter just do not hurt me’. I stood there shaking, but I got a hit. Right out over second base. Happiest moment in my life.”

What other people  do you know of that has changed baseball for the better?

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