The Saints' Ila Borders became the first female pitcher to appear in men’s professional baseball on May 31, 1997. Her first pitch hit the batter. She eventually made seven appearances for St. Paul before being traded to Duluth. She stayed in the Northern League for two more seasons and retired in 2000. She's now a firefighter in Arizona.
Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune file
Twenty years of Saints baseball
- Article by: BRIAN STENSAAS
- Star Tribune
- May 16, 2012 - 11:53 PM
WHO WERE THEY THEN? WHERE ARE THEY NOW? OPENING DAY LINEUP IN DULUTH, JUNE 15, 1993
Rick Hirtensteiner, CF
Assistant baseball coach, Pepperdine University
Eddie Ortega, 2B
Whereabouts could not be verified
Leon Durham, DH
Hitting coach, Toledo Mud Hens (Class AAA)
Jim Eppard, LF
Hitting coach, Los Angeles Angels
Tom Raffo, 1B
Head baseball coach, Arkansas State
Scott Meadows, RF
Physical education teacher, Lincoln High School (Gahanna, Ohio)
Frank Charles, C
Works in health care in Buffalo, N.Y.
Out of baseball; living in Denver
Assistant coach, Fordham University
Ranbir Grewal, P
Elected to Kerman (Calif.) High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010
5 NAMES YOU
Then: Ended up with the Saints in 1997 and 1998 after he and agent Scott Boras refused to sign with any major league team for less than $10 million. Hit .359 with 27 home runs.
Since: Helped the Red Sox win the 2007 World Series. Named 2008 All-Star game MVP.
Then: Did rehab in the 1996 season to make an MLB comeback. Hit a franchise-record .435 with 18 home runs in 29 games.
Since: Won World Series rings with the Yankees in 1996, '98 and '99. Runs a New York restaurant.
Then: Went 5-1 with a 2.61 ERA for his hometown team at age 41 in 1996, capping a professional career that began in 1976.
Since: Dabbled in broadcasting with the Twins and Tigers. Received Hall of Fame votes from 67 percent of the ballots in 2012.
Then: Appeared in 63 games as a 21-year-old rookie in the team's inaugural season. His contract was purchased by the Marlins at season's end. He returned 17 years later in a six-game comeback.
Since: Joined the Red Sox in 2003, when his "cowboy up" attitude was popular with teammates. Works for MLB Network.
Then: Became the first female pitcher to appear in men's professional baseball on May 31, 1997. Her first pitch hit the batter. Eventually made seven appearances for St. Paul before being traded to Duluth.
Since: Stayed in the Northern League for two more seasons, retired in 2000. Now a firefighter in Arizona.
5 PLAYERS WHO MADE MARKS
Longevity: Brent Krause
Played parts of five seasons, ending last year after a broken wrist. Franchise leader in nearly every offensive category, including 411 hits.
Great find: Charlie Ruud
Signed out of the team's open tryout in 2005, finished his career four years later with more starts (79), victories (40) and strikeouts (318) than any other pitcher.
Mound king: Chris Chavez
Held opponents to a .180 batting average in 2003-04 while converting a franchise-record 51 saves. Made 86 total appearances.
Mr. Long Bomb: David Kennedy
Cranked a record 54 home runs in parts of four seasons in St. Paul. Hit .330 with 19 home runs in 1998. Collected 80 RBI the year before.
First Saint: Rick Hirtensteiner
At 7:19 p.m. on opening night, he took a ball, the first pitch thrown, and later grounded out to second base. Then hit the first home run in franchise history leading off the fourth inning. Saints eventually won when Leon "Bull" Durham crushed a grand slam in the top of the 10th.
BY THE NUMBERS
1 stadium manager -- Bob Klepperich
4 championships (1993, '95, '96, '04)
58 original season ticket accounts
4,999,073 all-time attendance; fan No. 5 million will walk through the gate Thursday night
5 MEMORABLE PROMOTIONS
• Instant-Replay Mimes
• Michael Vick Chew Toy
• Metrodome Whoopie Cushion
• Bud Selig/Donald Fehr Seat Cushion
CO-OWNER MIKE VEECK ON ...« I was just trying to make it 20 minutes, 20 days. The more I read, sometimes with some frequency, that we were doomed to fail I'm not certain secretly I wasn't terrified, because I was. But you could tell early on we had something here. » Veeck on 20 years in St. Paul
• • •
Surprises: "A hundred players have resurrected their careers returning to organizations -- five a year! And 17 or 18 of those have gone onto the big leagues. So many major league clubs ignored us at first, but there is no question St. Paul in many ways has set the standard."
• • •
Doing it differently: "I would have been less a smart aleck about our relationship with the Twins. Dave St. Peter came along and singlehandedly made the relationship a whole lot better."
• • •
Prospects for a new stadium: "People that I have great respect for say this is going to happen, and I put my faith in them. They say Mike McGillicutty Steam Shovel is going to start digging, so who am I to disagree?"
NAME THAT PIG (21 in all)
The Saint• St. Paula • St. Patrick • Tobias • Hamlet • The Great Hambino • Hamilton • Hammy Davis Jr. • Kevin Bacon • Wilbur • The Notorious P.I.G. • Squeal Diamond • Ham Solo • Bud Squealig • Garrison Squeallor • Boarack Ohama • Slumhog Millionaire • Brat Favre • Justin Bieboar • And for 2012 ... Kim Lardashian and Kris Hamphries
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