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85-year-old ballplayer celebrates birthday with a base hit

Billie Harris turned 85 on Tuesday and celebrated with her favorite sport.

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Mark McClune
PHOENIX, ARIZONA — Billie Harris turned 85 on Tuesday and celebrated with her favorite sport.

"It was awesome," said Harris as she looked at her softball spikes. "I wouldn't get rid of them."

"It amazes me she can still do it," said Dot Wilkinson, Harris' longtime catcher and fellow Arizona Sports Hall of Famer. "She loves to play. Her friend asked her, 'What do you want for your 85th birthday?' She said a ballgame."

Harris was once the ace of the Arizona Ramblers. She threw an incredible 70 no-hitters in her competitive career and four perfect games. She was also the Jackie Robinson of Arizona softball.

"It was a lot of fun," said Harris in the dugout between innings at her 85th birthday. "For so many years, I wasn't allowed to play because they were afraid the fans wouldn't accept me. They just kind of put me out there and the fans kind of saw me being able to do the job so they just took to me."

Harris' bond with her teammates has lasted a lifetime. Wilkinson was on hand for the celebration. Wilkinson says she quit playing a couple years back but can still play catch into her 90s.

"Billie are I are good friends," said Wilkinson, a member of the National Softball and International Bowling Hall of Fames. "She calls me every day. She just wants to make sure I'm still here. She calls me every morning at 8:30. I know I better get up because Billie is going to be calling."

"She just helped me my whole life actually because I was in my mid-20s when I first met her," said Harris. "She kind of kept me under her wing since then."

Harris decided to play college ball in her 50s and retired from competition in her 70s. Her 85th birthday wasn't just a ceremony. The left-hand-hitting Harris hit a shot to the right side and legged out a single.

"That's what I wanted to do," said Harris. "Because I used to run pretty good. [sic] To be 85 and to make it to first base, that's even better for me."

Harris will always be a ballplayer. Her 85th birthday is one she'll never forget. What will she do for her next birthday?

"I'm going to go to Bermuda," said Harris with a laugh, "to rest..."

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