Enter the Lynn District Court, and you wouldn’t realize there’s a baseball legend in the building. For 22 years, however, Donna Mills has been a court officer at the Lynn District Court.
Depending on her surroundings, others may have no idea that she has a different role than they’re used to. On the baseball field, no one knows she’s a court officer; at the court, no one knows she’s a baseball legend who’s won two gold medals for Team USA.
“It’s sort of an alter ego,” Mills said.
Mills’ success is thoroughly recognized by those in the knowhow, and among them: the Boston Red Sox team historian Gordon Edes. Mills will appear on the “All-American Girls: Women in Professional Baseball” panel hosted by Edes on Saturday, June 23, from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) to discuss the increasing presence of women’s baseball.
Mills began her baseball career as a little leaguer in the Pine Hill Little League, but when given the choice to enter the senior league, she didn’t pursue it, she said. Mills eventually picked up softball in high school, where she would become a four-year varsity player and earn a scholarship to UMass Lowell.
There, Mills would set 21 school records—career runs (148), career home runs (17), career batting average (.438), among many. While few have been since surpassed, 16 of them still stand.
However, baseball remained her passion, and she would soon take part in the biggest stage in women’s baseball: the Women’s Baseball World Cup.
“I actually played before it was a thing. I was part of that movement,” Mills said. “We played in 2001, 2002 and 2003 for USA. We called it the ‘USA women’s national team,’ but we weren’t sanctioned by USA Baseball.”
USA Baseball sanctioned the team in 2004, the same year the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) would sanction Women’s Baseball World Cup. In the inaugural event, Team USA defeated Japan in Canada to win the gold medal.
“To even put on the USA jersey and hear the national anthem, and then to win Gold and stand on the podium with a Gold medal placed around your neck—even though it’s a world cup and we haven’t been advertised, and nobody know we exist, it’s still a memory I’ll never forget,” Mills said.
In 2006 at Taipei, Taiwan, Team USA repeated the feat, and Mills was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. This August, the Women’s Baseball World Cup will be played on American soil for the first time in tournament history at Viera, Fla.
Now retired, Mills’ work in women’s baseball continues—the latest to come at the panel.
“We’re growing,” Mills said. “It’s the fastest growing sport in the United States right now: girls’ baseball.”
“[Women’s baseball is] here,” she added. “We’re recognizing that we’re here, and we’re only going in one direction.”
The panel will last from 4 to 6:30 p.m. A limited quantity of tickets will be available to the audience for a Red Sox game against the Seattle Mariners at 7:15 p.m. MHS is located at 1154 Boylston St., Boston.