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Plant City Courier

Plant City's Chelsea Baker included in ESPN's Title IX tribute

Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 07:10 PM

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Chelsea Baker, who made her mark in sports by pitching two perfect Little League games, has again grabbed a bit of the national spotlight.

The 15-year-old Durant High School rising sophomore was one of a handful of female athletes profiled during a special on the 40th anniversary of Title IX, a federal law that was a catalyst for the rise of girls' and women's sports.

Baker was featured June 22 on ESPN's "E-60," a primetime show that also profiled her in 2010 as perhaps the best Little League player in the country. The show included a rebroadcast of the original story, narrated by actress Geena Davis, plus an update on the latest in Baker's career, including a recent tour of Japan and a possible contract to play in a women's baseball league in Japan.

Baker has received widespread publicity as she racked up two perfect games and many no-hitters.

She was included in a Reader's Digest feature on outstanding Americans, and appeared on many network and cable TV shows. The jersey she wore during an April 9, 2010 perfect game is on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Baker's specialty is the knuckleball, which she learned from one of the most heralded masters of the pitch, Joe Niekro, who moved to Plant City after his retirement from the majors. He coached youth baseball here, and his team included Baker.

Baker spent two years learning the pitch from Niekro, who died in 2006.

Her stepfather, Rod Mason, said he can scarcely believe the attention she's received in the last two years.

"It's mind-boggling, it really is," he said. "It's really been a great ride."

dnicholson@tampatrib.com (813) 394-5103

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