Announcing finalists for 2019 Dorothy Seymour Mills Lifetime Achievement Award

We are pleased to announce the finalists for the 2019 Dorothy Seymour Mills Lifetime Achievement Award , presented by SABR’s Women in Baseball Committee. Each of these finalists has made important contributions promoting the participation of women in baseball, on the field and off.

SABR’s Women in Baseball Committee established the Dorothy Seymour Mills Lifetime Achievement Award — “The Dorothy” — named in honor of Dorothy Seymour Mills and her lifetime of contributions to promoting women’s baseball. Here are the finalists for the 2019 award:

  • Justine Siegal has been a player and advocate for women’s participation in baseball since she was a teenager. Growing up playing the game, Siegal ran into discrimination early but used that as her motivation to never give in and help others to achieve their dreams as well. She has achieved a variety of impressive firsts in her career while also earning her Ph.D. in sport and exercise psychology. She has coached at the collegiate level, pitched batting practice for several Major League Baseball teams, served as a coach for the Brockton Rox, and as an instructional coach for the Oakland A’s. (She donated her A’s jersey to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.) At age 23, she founded the nonprofit organization Baseball for All, which continues to provide endless opportunities for women and girls to play baseball all over the world. She also created the Sparks, an all-girls team which has competed in tournaments all over the world. Siegal is a highly sought after motivational speaker and advocate for all young people getting opportunities to be involved in baseball. Baseball for All not only offers playing opportunities but has advocated for girls all over when they have been denied the opportunity to play. Siegal has also been involved with the US Women’s National Team, creating a national tournament for girls baseball. She continues to play, coach, and advocate for women and girls in baseball.
  • Ila Borders broke barriers in baseball in 1997 when she became the first woman to pitch in the minor leagues with the Northern League’s St. Paul Saints. Playing for three years in the minors, Borders pitched for the Saints, the Duluth-Superior Dukes, the Madison Black Wolf, and the Zion Pioneerzz. Borders developed her love for baseball playing Little League but also learned about the barriers that existed to prevent women from playing. Borders did not let that stop her as she went on to play baseball in high school and then won a scholarship to play baseball at Southern California College and completed her degree at Whittier Christian College. Pitching for Whittier made Borders the first woman to pitch for a NCAA Division III team. Borders left baseball in 2000 only to return a number of years later as a coach, player, and role model for hundreds of young ladies wishing to play baseball. Borders has worked as a firefighter in a number of communities since she retired from professional baseball. Borders’ baseball gear is on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and in 2003 she was elected to the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals.
  • Rachel Robinson is best known to many as the widow of Jackie Robinson, the man who integrated Major League Baseball when he debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, but her importance is so much greater. When Branch Rickey was scouting for a player to integrate baseball, he wanted someone with a family who could support and be his rock, and that family started with Rachel Isum Robinson. Many of Robinson’s accomplishments involve work for civil rights and education. While Jackie was still alive, they hosted jazz fundraisers at their home to help out jailed civil rights activists. She worked for many years as a nurse after earning her master’s degree in the field. She is the founder and served as President of the Board for the Jackie Robinson Foundation until 1996. She is the author of Jackie Robinson: An Intimate Portrait. She is the recipient of many awards over her long and distinguished career, including the Candace Award for Distinguished Service from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Equitable Life Black Achievers Award and the Associated Black Charities Black History Makers Award. In addition, St. John’s University, Springfield College, MacAlester College, Boston College, Suffolk University, New York University, Connecticut College, and the University of Massachusetts have conferred upon her honorary doctorates.
  • Janet Marie Smith was named the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Senior Vice President of Planning and Development in 2012. With the Dodgers, Smith has overseen large-scale improvement/expansion projects at Dodger Stadium and Campo Las Palmas, the club’s home in the Dominican Republic. Smith is best known in baseball for her work on Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which set the standard for a new wave of ballparks after its opening in 1992. Smith worked for the Orioles from 1989-94 as Vice President of Planning and Development during the design and construction of the park. She later rejoined the club from 2009-12 to direct renovations and expansion of the Orioles’ spring training facility in Sarasota, Florida, and upgrades to Camden Yards. From 2002-09, Smith served as Senior Vice President of Planning and Development for the Boston Red Sox, overseeing the preservation and expansion of Fenway Park. Smith was President of Turner Sports and Entertainment Development and Vice President of Planning and Development for the Atlanta Braves from 1994-2000, when she helped transform the 1996 Olympic Stadium into Turner Field and she oversaw the development of the Philips Arena, then home to the NBA Hawks and NHL Thrashers. Outside of baseball, Smith has worked on development projects including Battery Park City in New York in the early 1980s, unfulfilled plans for Pershing Square in L.A. in the late 1980s and planning for the renovation of the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, California, in 2009. Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Mississippi State University in 1981 and a master’s degree in urban planning from City College of New York in 1984.

Eligible candidates for the Dorothy Seymour Mills Lifetime Achievement Award include any person with a sustained involvement in women’s baseball or any woman with a longtime involvement in baseball in any fashion — player, umpire, writer, executive, team owner, scout, etc. Candidates do not have to be living; it can be awarded posthumously. Self-nominations are accepted.

Originally published: April 30, 2019. Last Updated: April 30, 2019.