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American Heroes
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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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Veteran Pitchers (1960s)
Complied from baseballhistorian.com Archives and from our manager's old notebook.

Records and Bios:

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Ted Abernathy, Pitcher RH, Wash Senators 6'4" 205lbs - the well-traveled veteran was one of the top relievers in the majors during a career that spanned 18-seasons (1955-1972)... throws sidearm, loves to pitch - a real gamer... Averaged close to 7 strikeouts per/9 innings in career.

Abernathy broke into the big-leagues as a starter and reliever... in rookie year of '55, was 5-9, 5.96 ERA for the last place Washington Senators, started 14 games, completed 3 and tossed 2 shutouts, 119 innings in 40 games... after bouncing back-and-forth in D.C. and the minors he was signed by Cleveland, and in his first year (1963) with the Indians he became the team's bullpen ace -went 7-2, 2.88 ERA, 12 saves, and struck out 47 in just 59 1/3 innings of relief.

Abernathy was sold to the Cubs in 1965 and led the majors with 84 appearances, 4-6 W/L, collected 34 saves, 104 Ks in 136 innings, 4.55 ERA... traded to Atlanta in mid-'66 and then signed by Cincinnati in December of '66... where he led the league in appearances in both 1967 and 1968 (70 and 78 G)... in '67, the tall, lanky hurler was 6-3, 28 saves in 106.3 innings and led all major league relievers with a mere 1.27 ERA.

Ted Abernathy career: 63-69, 3.49 ERA, 681 games, 148 saves, 1010 hits in 1147.7 innings, 765Ks, 592Ws, .241 opponents batting average. 70 HR allowed.

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Chuck Estrada, Pitcher RH, Baltimore Orioles - 6' 175lbs - had a great rookie season in 1960, chalking up a compelling 18-11 mark, 3.58 ERA, completed 12 of 25 starts, surrendered just 162 hits in 208 innings, 144Ks, 101Ws in 36 games. Followed that by going 15-9, 3.69 in his sophomore year of 1961.

The fireballing right-hander led Baltimore's pitching staff in strikeouts three years running (1960-1962) but after those years spent lots of time on the disabled list.

Chuck Estrada career: 50-44, 4.07 ERA, 146G, 105GS, 24GC, 2 Shutouts, 652 hits in 764.3 innings, 535Ks, 416Ws allowed 78 HR. Orioles 1960-64; Cubs 1966; Mets 1967

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James Hannan, Pitcher RH, Washington Senators, 6'3" 205lbs - a graduate of Notre Dame University, starting and relief pitcher... in his rookie season in 1962, Hannan hurled 23 scoreless innings in a string of 14 relief appearances for the Senators... pitched nine years in D.C.

His best season was with the Senators in 1968, when he posted a 10-6 mark, 3.01 ERA, completed 4 of 22 starts and fanned 75 in 140.3 innings.

Jim Hannan career: 41-48, 3.88 ERA, 276 games, 101GS, 9GC, 4 shutouts, 7 saves, 807 hits in 822 innings, 438Ks, 406Ws, allowed 79 Hr... Senators 1962-1970, Detroit 1971

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Frank Bertaina, Pitcher LH, Orioles, 5'11" 178lbs - broke into professional ball in 1962, at age 18, with Aberdeen of the Northern League... struck out 121 in 131 innings with Elmira in '64 and then was brought up to the majors by Baltimore in mid-year... late in that year's pennant race, Bertaina was given an important start by Orioles manager Hank Bauer. The rookie, pitching in a pressure-packed game, threw a one-hit, 1 to 0 game against Kansas City.

In 1966, Bertaina was 2-5, 3.13 for the Orioles in 16 games, 9 starts and struck out 46 in 63.3 innings... traded to the Senators in May of '67... in 1968 Bertaina posted a 7-13 W/L, 4.66 ERA in 23 starts, 127.3 innings.

Frank Bertaina career: 19-29, 3.84 ERA in 99 games, 66GS, 6GC, 5 Shutouts, 399 hits in 413 innings, 280Ks, 214Ws.

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Peter Mikkelsen, Relief Pitcher RH, Yankees - 6'2" 212lbs - broke into pro ball in '58 as a 19-year old with Modesto of the California League... was 11-6 with a low 1.47 ERA for Augusta in '63.

Mikkelsen debuted with the New York Yankees in 1964 and led the team in appearances with 50 and had a 7-4 W/L record - 3.56 ERA and 12 saves... scouts report: 'fastball rates 4-Stars - and his ability to keep the ball low makes him a tough pitcher to hit... excellent control.' With Yankees in 1965 struck out 69 batters in 86 IP, was 4-9, 3.29 ERA.

He was traded to Pittsburgh along with cash for mound ace Bob Friend on 12/10/1965... led the NL with 71 appearances, 14 saves, 9-8 record, 3.07 ERA... sold to Cubs in mid-1967 and was combined 1-2, 4.57 ERA in 39 games... traded to Cardinals in '68... finished career with LA Dodgers 1969-72.

Pete Mikkelsen career: 45-40, 3.38 ERA, 49 saves, 364 games, 3GS, 576 hits in 653 innings, 436Ks, 250Ws and a fine .237 opponents batting average, 59 HR allowed.



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