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Leading Players (1940s) Women Baseball History Leading Players (1940s) Women Baseball History
Gaining national attention after starring in amateur softball leagues... this page sponsored by the Wintersweet Foundation to help orphaned children around the world - for more information contact www.wintersweet.org

Eager to participate in competitive hard-ball baseball, many of softball playing women successfully made the move to emulate men playing in the major leagues.

Womens Baseball History During World War II

When these women soft-ballers heard of the new league being formed in the mid-west by Philip Wrigley and a group of investors, they came by the hundreds to tryout in 1943. The new womens league - the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League - featured many women stars from big-city and industrial softball leagues.

A softball playing team, the Detroit Keller Girls, gained attention during the Wars years of the early-1940s. Right-hander Connie Wisniewski with her blazing fastball thrown with a windmill-like underhand pitching motion. With speeds in the 90 mph/per/hour range, the teen-aged Wisniewski helped propel the Keller Girls into national prominence.

Wisniewski, along with Lillian Jackson, Dottie Witse, Dorothy Kamenshek, Dorothy Sawyer, Ethel McCreary, Millie Warwick, Dottie Collins, Clara Cook, Mary Crews, Audrey Wagner, Jean Faut, Eileen Burmeister, Betsy Jochum, Gladys Davis, Dottie Key, Wilma Briggs, Carolyn Morris, Joanne Winter, Ana May Hutchison and Helen Callaghan opened quite a few eyes among baseball fans with their fielding, batting and pitching achievements during the 1940s.

Terrie Davis hit red-hot .332 and won the batting title in the AAGPBL first season - 1943. One of the league's best hitters, Dorothy Kamenshek captured back-to-back batting titles with .316 in 1946 and .306 in 1947.

Almost all of the above players got their start in amateur traveling softball leagues before vaulting into the professional AAGBL. Baseball Historian



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Betty McKenna Betty McKenna
Third Base, Right-handed - Fort Wayne, Battle Creek and Peoria 1951; Battle Creek 1952; Muskegon 1953

Women's Baseball History

A solid all-around athlete, Betty McKenna played for three different teams in her rookie season (1951) in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League - batting .151 in 61 games, including 6 doubles and one triple.

After playing with Battle Creek in 1952, she moved with the team after they relocated to the Muskegon Belles prior to the '53 season. Still only 22-years old, Mac took over the full time role at third base, and blossomed into one of the better players at the hot-corner in the AAGPBL. She hit a solid .215 in 94 games, and lined 8 Ds, 1 Ts, scored 31 runs, had 28 RBIs, and stole a career-high 16 bases.

She was becoming a full-pledged star player... however the womens baseball league folded after that season - 1953.

baseballhistorian.com - All-American Women Archives



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Jaynne Bittner Jaynne Bittner
Pitcher, RH - Women Baseball Player - Muskegon Lassies 1948; Grand Rapids Chicks 1949-1952, 1954; Fort Wayne Daises 1952-53

Women's Baseball History

A member of Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame... A big name star pitcher, Jaynne Bittner helped the Fort Wayne Daises win back-to-back AAGPBL Championships - 1952-1953, including a career best 16-7 W/L record with a stingy 2.45 earned run average in 209 innings, spanning 30 games in 1953.

Nicknamed JB, and relying on a blazing fastball and 3-speed, hard-slider, she posted a solid 9-9 record with a 2.55 earned run average as a 22-year old rookie with the Muskegon Lassies in 1948. Traded to Grand Rapids the following year, where she pitched from 1949 thru early-1952 - including a 15-8 W/L and a 2.95 ERA in 183 innings, spanning 23 games in 1951... Jaynne Bittner AAGBL stats: 65-67 record, 3.44 ERA, 1091 innings, 169 games.

=============================================== Womens Baseball Historian

To help orphaned children around the world, please contact The Wintersweet Foundation at www.wintersweet.org

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Helen Smith Helen Smith
Outfielder, RH - Kenosha Comets of AAGPBL 1947... United States Army during World War II

An all-around athlete, Helen Gig Smith proudly served in the Army before playing in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Born in Richmond, Virginia, her tenure included one Season (1947) with the Kenosha Comets - in 27 games, she lined 11 hits in 60 at-bats... Then, attended and graduated from Pratt Art Institute and later taught art in the Richmond area.

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Many of the women baseball players profiled on American Heroes proudly served in the US Military... or worked in ammunition or aircraft factories or performed other service-related work during World War II, all to keep our servicemen rolling... True American Heroes these gals. And, a few lost love ones in foreign lands...



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Edna Frank Edna Frank
Catcher, Right-handed - Minneapolis Millerettes of the Womens Baseball League - AAGPBL... United States Navy

A well-regarded catcher during her high school days, Edna Frank broke into professional baseball at age 20 with the Minneapolis Millerettes in 1944... and, after playing only 16 games, jumped ship and quit the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League and proudly joined the United States Navy. After her stint in the military, she married and raised eight children.



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Players of the All-American Girls Baseball - 1940s Players of the All-American Girls Baseball - 1940s
Women Athletes in Baseball Team Sports

Featured below are some of the leading players who made the AAGPBL a sterling success during this decade. These women had superb skills and brought a new era to girls team sports.

This is the League that changed womens team sports forever. The hit movie 'A League of Their Own' depicted what these pioneering girls endured.

Women's Baseball History

Players Bios:

* Margaret Berger, South Bend Blue Sox Pitcher, RH - picked for the first All-Star team in 1943, she played just two season in the AAGBL, however was a major star in both years. Nicknamed Sunny... Berger chalked up two straight 20 win seasons (1943-44), going 25-13, with a 1.91 earned run average, and followed that with a 21-17 mark, including a miserly 1.57 ERA.

* Betty Yahr, Rockford Peaches Outfielder, Bats Left, Throws RH - a jackrabbit in the outfield, she caught everything in sight... the 5-ft, 5-inch ballhawk played just one year in the AAGBL (1946) and then turn own a contract to return... played a big role in Rockford's winning record 70-42 W/L in '46... born in Ann Arbor Michigan.

* Margaret Wigiser, Minneapolis &N Rockford Center fielder, RH - one of the womens league long ball hitters... as a 20-year old rookie with the Minneapolis Millerettes in 1944, she blasted the longest home run ever hit in Rockford Park, and later that year was traded to the Rockford team. Wigiser hit a career high .249, with 8 doubles, 2 triples, 2 homeruns as the starting center fielder for the 1945 Rockford Peaches Championship Team. She played Three years in the League - 1944-46... born in Brooklyn NY.

* Charlotte Armstrong, South Bend Blue Sox Pitcher, Right-handed - one of the top pitchers in this League, her fastball second-to-none. Although it's been over 5 decades since he pitched Armstrong remains a fans favorite among our veteran baseball fans... nicknamed Skipper she went 21-15, a stingy 1.51 ERA in 1944 and next year was 18-22, 1.96 ERA in 46 games... she left the AAGPBL and then pitched for a rival professional League before going back to softball.

* Dottie Stolze, Muskegon Lassies & Peoria Redwings Infielder/Outfielder, RH - a veteran of seven years in the AAGPBL, a versatile player, she broke in as a 23-year old rookie with Muskegon in 1946, where she was played 3 1/23 years before being traded in mid-'49. Stolze hit a career-best .243 in 1950 and lined a career-high 9 doubles in '51... Muskegon 1946-49... Racine 1949... Peoria 1950-51... Grand Rapids 1952.



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Milwaukee Brewers - 2001 Season Preview
The lowdown by expert analysis:

From "The Sporting News Baseball Magazine" by Emmett Prosser

General manager Dean Taylor appears to have the organization on the right path. The team heads into Miller Park with obvious optimism. The scouting department and the farm system are in much better shape than they were when Taylor took over. But it won't be easy for the Brewers to avoid another losing year unless they build on the momentum of the final two months of last season.

The roster generates more hope than it did a year ago. The club has one of the top bullpens in the National League, and the starting pitching has improved. Richie Sexson helped awaken a lineup that spent the first half of last season in hibernation.

If the team gets more production from the upper and lower thirds of the lineup and the pitching staff can find some control, the team should improve on last season's 73-89 mark.

MANAGER Davey Lopes tries to maintain a positive attitude. Lopes doesn't dwell on tough loses and always maintains an even keel in the dugout and clubhouse.

Players always know where they stand with Lopes, and he maintains a very professional environment.

ROTATION - While most of the rotation was inconsistent last season, Jeff C. D'Amico came off the trainer's table and established himself as the tea,'s No. 1 starter. If D'Amico (12-7, 2.66 ERA) can anchor the staff again and repeat his remarkable 2000 season, the team may have the markings of a remarkable staff. D'Amico, who returned after missing almost two entire seasons, was successful because he was able to throw strikes. However, control was a problem for the rest of the staff.

If Jamey Wright (7-9, 4.10 ERA) can harness the movement on his sinker and curve, he could dominate games. His stuff is untouchable at times, but when he loses his release point, Wright becomes wild and ordinary. Jimmy Haynes (12-13, 5.33 ERA) led the team in innings pitched and has the stuff to win 15 or more, but he hasn't been able t keep opponents off the bases.

Paul Rigdon (4-4, 4.52 ERA) is raw and inexperienced, but he looks to have the inside track for the No. 4 spot. John Snyder (3-10, 6.17 ERA), who was the No. 5 starter, will have to win the job in spring training. Ben Sheets at Indianapolis last could become a force on the staff latter in this year.

Bullpen - Curtis Leskanic (9-3, 2.56 ERA) made sure that the team's strongest suit wasn't shaken when All-Star closer Bob Wickman was traded away. Leskanic's hard slider and upper-90s heat were too tough on opponents once he slid into the closer's role. The team rewarded him with a three-year extension. He will lead the way for one of the top bullpens in the major leagues.

If Leskanic ends up on the disabled list, setup man Juan Acevedo (3-7, 3.81 ERA in 62 games) could fill in. Acevedo and David Weathers will try to hold leads for Leskanic. If the team needs a lefty, Ray King, team's biggest surprise, will get the call. Opponents hit .180 against him, and King (3-2, 1.26 ERA in 36 games) showed he could get key hitters out in key situations.

ROOKIE - Ben Sheets looks like the type of pitcher who can anchor a starting staff. He had stellar minor league numbers in 2000, but his Olympic statistics were scary. Sheets, 22, has two pitches he relies on to get hitters out: an above-average fastball and a devastating overhand curveball that starts at the top of the strike zone and ends up below the knees. What's more, his performance in the Olympic Games showed his unflappable demeanor on the mound.

GOING DOWN - "The Milwaukee Brewers needed a spark at the top of the order last season, but Marquis Grissom was unable to provide it. Lopes moved him down in the order because Grissom wasn't selective at the plate. And now, the recently signed Jeffrey Hammonds will replace Grissom in center. Grissom has always been too aggressive at the plate, but now his legs, once lethal weapons, are betraying him, too.

CATCHING - Henry Blanco is one of the premier defensive catchers in baseball. He has one of the most accurate arms in the game, and teams hesitate to run on him. Because he is so good on defense, the Brewers don't have a problem with his meager offense ( .236, 24 Ds, 7 HR, 31 RBIs).

Backup Raul Casanova ( .247, 13 Ds, 6 HR, 36 RBIs) is an average receiver with power from both sides of the plate. When he doesn't start, he'll pinch hit.

INFIELD - Taylor struck gold when he acquired Richie Sexson ( 30 Hr, 89 Runs, 91 RBIs). Increased playing time helped Sexson thrive. First base was once a problem, but if Sexson stays healthy, it will be considered one of the strongest positions on the team.

The other corner of the diamond remains a question. Jose Hernandez and Tyler Houston combined for 29 home runs and 102 RBIs last season, both had horrible strikeout/walks ratios. Timely hitting wasn't the only thing the team missed when shortstop Mark Loretta wasn't in the lineup last season. They also missed his steady glove. Loretta's bat (.281, 21 Ds) usually kick-starts the top third of the order. One of the best contact hitters in baseball, Loretta needs to generate more opportunities.

Ron Belliard remains the wild card in the order. Lopes says Belliard has the tools to be one of the most talented second baseman in the league. Luis Lopez can play second, third and short. Lou Collier's speed and ability to play the infield and outfield give him a chance to make the team.

OUTFIELD - Jeffery Hammonds became the highest-paid Player in franchise history when he signed a three-year, $21.75 million deal in December. Hammonds ( .335, 24 Ds, 20 HR, 106 RBIs) hit for average and power at Coors Field in 2000, and the Brewers think he can reach the potential that made him a No. 1 draft pick out of Stanford in 1992. skeptics think his 2000 numbers were inflated because he played home games at Coors Field. Hammonds replaces Marquis Grissom in center. After two sub-par years at the plate, Grissom will fill a reserve role.

Geoff Jenkins (.303, 36 Ds, 34 HR, 94 RBIs) and Jeromy Burnitz (.232, 29 Ds, 31 HR, 99 RBIs) have as much power as any right/left field tandem in the National league. If only they had more patience. Hitting behind Sexson should help Burnitz see better pitches this year. He needs to improve his average with runners in scoring position.

If Burnitz gets on track early, the Brewers could have one of most dangerous outfield in the NL. Jenkins has All-Star tools and a tremendous work ethic. He plays hard each day, and he plays hurt. Considering he missed three weeks of the 2000 season because of a broken finger, his numbers should only get better.

Brant Brown has the best shot at the fifth outfield spot and could become a valuable reserve if there's a major injury. He has played all three positions and has some speed.

Emmett Prosser covers the Brewers for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.



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