22 May 2010

All American Girls Professional Baseball League

I saw a tiny mention in the Gazette this morning of Dorothy Kamenshenk, an 84 year old lady who died a few days ago in Palm Desert CA. That is her in her heyday of the 40s. Apparently she joined the Peaches as a 17 yr old. I always think it is a good idea to show a picture of the deceased in their younger days. Isn't that how we remember people anyway?

She had been a member of the Rockford Peaches, equivalent to the New York Yankees, of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) for about 10 years from 1943 when the league was formed until it folded in the early 50s.

The role that Geena Davis played in A League of Their Own was said to be based in part on her. But if you remember the movie you know that Ms Davis played a catcher and according to the records and this picture to the left, Ms Kamensheank was an outfielder and a very good first baseman. This really short note led to Google and a nice and more complete obituary in the Washington Post. The foul-mouthed alcoholic manager of the team was played by Tom Hanks with his famous quote—"ARE YOU CRYIN'? THERE'S NO CRYIN' IN BASEBALL!"

Because I grew up in rural Wisconsin, about half way between Madison and Milwaukee, and learned how to read with the help of my grandfather Rohrschneider and the daily newspapers, I knew about—though I never saw a game—the Rockford Peaches, Racine Belles, Kenosha Comets and the South Bend Blue Sox. These were the original teams that made up the league, sponsored by Phil Wrigley, when the boys started going off to war. Later on, they were joined by the Fort Wayne Daisies, Grand Rapids Chicks, Muskegon—later the Kalamazoo—Lassies, and Peoria Redwings. The Minneapolis Millerettes and Milwaukee Chicks were fairly short-lived teams despite their larger populations. The Springfield Sallies and Chicago Colleens played for a couple of years too, though I think they were regarded as minor league training teams for the other more established teams until the whole league closed down after the 1954 season. There is a nice history of those days and some pictures too here. And of course, Wikipedia has some useful stuff to contribute here. Like the boys who went to war in those days these ladies are getting a little thin on the ground.

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