MINNEAPOLIS -- Little League star Mo'ne Davis might have gotten a glimpse of her future Sunday, when she attended a WNBA playoff game. But her appearance here in Minnesota also provided some glances into the past.
A little more than an hour before the Lynx-Mercury game, Davis accompanied WNBA president Laurel Richie onto the floor at Target Center. At one point, Davis chatted with Mercury president and general manager Ann Meyers Drysdale, who knows plenty about baseball and breaking down barriers.
After Meyers Drysdale finished a phenomenal college basketball career at UCLA in 1979, she got a tryout with the NBA's Indiana Pacers. She also played for the short-lived Women's Professional Basketball League, and she was married to the late Don Drysdale, the Los Angeles Dodgers superstar pitcher.
Meyers Drysdale is a legendary figure in women's athletics and is a member of more Halls of Fame than she can probably even keep track of. But ...
"Mo'ne doesn't have a clue who I am," Meyers Drysdale said with a chuckle. "I told her maybe she could just Google it. I'm excited about the things that are happening to her and other young girls who are doing what they love to do because they have the opportunities, thanks to Title IX and so many women who've helped all of us."
It might sound like a pedantic, old-fogey thing for us to do -- bring up how hard a lot of people worked to get to where we are now, with athletic opportunities for girls Davis' age -- but it's necessary to remind people of that. Consider that when the 59-year-old Meyers Drysdale was 13, there weren't college athletic scholarships for women. There was no national college basketball tournament for women. And girls had yet to win the court battles that eventually got them into Little League.
That's why seeing Davis, who was wearing a UConn sweatshirt over a Maya Moore Lynx T-shirt at Sunday's game, was such ample food for thought. Davis has said she sees her future in basketball, and she wants to follow in Moore's footsteps as a Huskies player who goes on to the WNBA.
Asked why Moore is her favorite player, Davis said, "I like the way she carries herself and her style of play."
Then Davis got to watch Moore at her best; she scored 32 points in the Lynx's 82-77 victory that tied the Western Conference finals at a game apiece. There were 10,513 fans in attendance, and they gave a huge ovation to Davis when she was announced between the first and second quarters.
You have to wonder if Davis is better known nationally -- at least right at the moment -- than Moore. Almost everybody's heard of the "girl pitcher" who took the Little League World Series by storm and got on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Does Moore, the WNBA's MVP and currently one of the top female athletes in the world, have the same name recognition?
Certainly she does regionally. And most serious sports fans across the country are familiar with Moore, who won two NCAA titles at UConn and has two WNBA championships with the Lynx. But the fact is, the WNBA -- in its 18th season -- is still working to establish its top stars as "names" in the general sense as national celebrities.
Davis drew so much attention in large part because she was a girl succeeding in a game played mostly by boys. It will be interesting to see how much Davis' name recognition is sustained over the next decade if she lives out the plan she has now.
That's a long time, and a lot could happen. Who knows what kind of high school hoops player Davis actually will be, let alone how she'll do in college. She's just starting her teens.
But maybe in 2024, Davis will be the one who's at the center of attention in the WNBA playoffs. Maybe she'll be doing commercials and appearing on talk shows, and she'll become so familiar people just call her by her first name.
Hey, Moore should probably hold on to the autographed Sports Illustrated Davis brought to Sunday's game to give to her. One day, Moore might smile when looking at that and say, "Remember the day I traded autographs with Mo'ne?"
For now, Davis can go home and look up Ann Meyers Drysdale on her search engine of choice. She can watch the rest of the WNBA playoffs -- she said Sunday she's cheering for the Lynx -- and then follow the upcoming women's college hoops season, as UConn looks to win its 10th NCAA title.
Davis and girls her age see a vast sports landscape that has been grown tremendously for them. But it will also need to continue being grown by them.