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IntroductionBaseball has long been known as the national pastime, a game for all Americans. Unfortunately, for many years this simply was not true. Not everyone has always been welcome at the ballpark. At various times professional baseball has either banned certain groups of people from playing or made it very, very difficult for them to play. And although America is a diverse country with people of many different ethnic backgrounds, until very recently the stands at major league ballparks have not looked like America. Baseball Heroes tells the story of some baseball pioneers, three men and a woman—yes, a woman—who fought hard for their own right to play baseball so that everyone could participate in our national pastime. These pioneers were all "good sports" who played the game the right way and for the right reasons. One of the first Jewish players in professional baseball, Hank Greenberg had to ignore vicious slurs and namecalling from his opponents. Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play major league baseball in the twentieth century, went through a similar experience. Mexican pitcher Fernando Valenzuela was one of the first big Latino stars in baseball and helped make the game popular with Latino fans in America. And as the first woman to play baseball both in college and professionally, Ila Borders had to convince everybody that she was good enough to play. Each of these pioneers helped make baseball the game it is today, a game that everyone with the talent to play also has the right to play. Fans of every imaginable background turn out by the thousands to cheer their favorite teams and players. While all of these pioneers recognized that everybody is an individual and everyone is different, they also knew that in every way that is truly important, everybody is the same, and our differences should not be enough to divide us or keep us apart. Because of them, baseball is now truly America’s national pastime.