Although Donna Mills is “absolutely a Boston Red Sox fan,” saying “you have to be” if you live there, it was still the experience of a lifetime for her when she got to hold a New York Yankees uniform of Babe Ruth.
She got the chance because she can hit the ball hard and far, just like the Babe.
Mills was at the very top of women’s baseball in 2006. She played third base and batted clean-up for the USA women’s national team that won the Women’s Baseball World Cup in Taiwan. She hit a blistering .474, knocked in a tourney-high 13 RBIs, including four in the gold medal game, and was named World Cup Most Valuable Player. The sterling performance earned her batting gloves from the tourney a ticket to still be on display in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
“I’m honored, to say the least,” said Mills. “But there’s another story to it.”
After Mills sent her batting gloves to Cooperstown, some friends went to see them, but reported back they were not on display. So Mills went, too, found out there had been a paperwork mix-up and delay, and was given a private tour of the hallowed hall’s off-limits basement artifacts as a good- will gesture.
“You wouldn’t believe all the stuff down there,” said Mills. “I had to wear white gloves to hold up Babe Ruth’s jersey. It was five times the size of me. And I got to hold his hat, and I put on Cal Ripken’s helmet. It turned out pretty well that there had been a delay in displaying my batting gloves. The baseball Gods smiled on me.”
Mills eventually saw her batting gloves in the basement, right next to Roger Clemens’ Astros hat. The gloves are now displayed in the Hall’s women’s baseball section.
Donna Mills at 2004 World Cup
Donna Mills was introduced to a Boston Red Sox crowd in 2006 at Fenway Park after being named MVP of the Women’s Baseball World Cup tourney won by the USA. At right is the Boston Red Sox mascot.
She was also honored in a Boston Red Sox pre-game ceremony at her beloved Fenway Park. “I was walked to home plate and introduced as the MVP of the World Cup,” said Mills. “That was pretty cool, just unbelievable.”
Mills has played with the New England Red Sox during their impressive string of five consecutive AWBF national champion- ships. The team’s record the past six seasons is a glittering 89-6.
She is a power hitter, although over-the-fence home runs are rare in women’s baseball. Mills can crank them to the warning track, and recalls hitting a 410-foot center field wall once on one hop, a clout that probably traveled 400 feet in the air. She’s planning to participate in the AWBF national’s Home Run Derby on Sunday, Oct. 11, in Holland, Ind.
Mills, 34, said her baseball career is “kind of winding down.”
She said it’s like a family playing for the New England Red Sox, and points out, “We wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for our coach, Kevin Marden. The commitment he has made to us has been extraordinary.”
Mills was also a softball player, earning a college scholarship, and playing on the first U.S. Women’s Modified Pitch tourney team in 1993.
“But baseball is just a whole different game than softball,” said Mills. “The excitement, the smell of the grass, the dirt and leather. And the challenge of hitting the small ball.”
by Greg Eckerle – reprinted with the permission of Jim Glennie, Executive Director, American Women’s Baseball Federation (AWBF)