Looking Back: Women And Baseball

This series is something I have been wanting to do for a long time. As a baseball history enthusiast, it dawned on me that it wasn’t complete without adding in the contributions the women made into baseball. It certainly is noteworthy that they added to and continued the love of the game during World War II as shown in movies.
There are many very good books written on this subject and I recommend you find a few and give them a good read. This listing of bios is not done in any order of abilities. It is just random players and what they accomplished in the great game of baseball.

Shirley Burkovich- She was born on February 4, 1934 in Pittsburgh but grew up and spent her childhood in Swissvale, PA. It was here she began to play baseball with the boys in the neighborhood. Organized sports came much later. In her high school years, she played field hockey and basketball,
She went to Pittsburgh at the age of 16 for tryouts to play in the AAGPB for tryouts but needed the permission of her parents and the school since it was still in session which she got from both. She made the cut and played for three teams from 1949-1951 which were the Chicago Colleens, Springfield Sallies and the Rockford Peaches. She had a .375 on-base percentage and hit .229 from the plate in 37 games. She was a pitcher and had three relief appearances with no decisions.
After her playing days, she actively championed the AAGPBL and was part of the film A League of Their Own and was a Board member of the AAGPBL. Shirley passed on March 31, 2022 at the age of 89.

Gertrude Dunn- Born on September 30, 1933,in Sharon Hill, PA. She moved straight from high school in 1951 to the AAGLBP. She played for two teams which were the Battle Creek Belles and the South Bend Blue sox. In 1952, She was named Rookie of the Year. She finished with a .261 batting average in 320 games as the women’s leagues were beginning to disband. As that was happening, when joined an All-American All Star team to travel the nation. She played with many of the great players in women’s baseball on this team. This team played over 100 games and traveled over 10,000 miles in a Ford Station Wagon owned by the manager.
She died when her Piper Archer airplane she was co-piloting crashed on September 29, 2004 in Avondale, Pennsylvania. She was 70 years of age.

Joan Berger- She was born on October 9, 1933 in Passaic New Jersey. She was an infielder and outfielder. Although she was only 5’3”, she joined her father’s softball team, the Garfield Flashettes. By the time she was 16, she tried out for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. She was deemed too young to play.
After she graduated from high school, she was accepted and sent to play for the Rockford Peaches. In her first year she played in 40 games in right field and hit .261. She maintained her rookie stair and her second season saw her switch to second base where she was awarded the Rookie of the Year honors and the only rookie to be named to the league All Star team in 1952, the next season she split her time between shortstop and third base and hit .280 for the Peaches.
The league folded and she joined a barnstorming team that played male teams around the country. They played over 200 games and traveled over 10,000 miles in a station wagon. She was part of the AAGPBL permanent display at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum at Cooperstown, New York, opened in 1988, which is dedicated to the entire league rather than any individual player.Joan died on September 11. 2021 at the age of 87.

Jeanie Descombes- was born on March 28, 1935 in Springfield, Ogio. She was 135 lbs n her rookie season, Descombes posted a 0–1 record with a 7.45 earned run average in seven relief appearances and was a member of the Champion Team, even though she did not pitch during the postseason.In her final season of 1954, Descombes collected a 10–9 record and a 5.00 ERA in 22 appearances, tying for eight place in the league for the most wins while ending fifth in strikeouts (63). She also helped herself with the bat, going 7-for-39 for a .179 average and threw and batted left handed for the Grand Rapid Chicks.
Jeanie wrote this:

actually had no pitching participation and had never played organized baseball… I had practiced baseball with our school team all through high school, but of course, they would not let me play in the games. I was also the batgirl for our town team of men and practiced with them and went to all the games. I loved the game and had a strong arm, she recalled in her autobiography

Betty Foss-She began her baseball career as Betty Weaver after getting married. She was born on May 10, 1929 in Metropolis, Illinois. Standing at 5’10” and 180 lbs, she was a switch hitter and threw as a right hander.
Her sisters Jean and Joan all played in the AAGPBL. In 1950, sh was offered a contract wih the Chicago White Sox but opted to play in the women’s league.n the AAGLBP, she won back-to-back batting crowns and was almost in the Top leaders in stolen bases and slugging.Her teammates called her Fossie. She was a speedy outfield and a stellar defensive whiz at first base.
She collected 294 stolen bases and is only one of six players to have hit 30 or more career home runs (32). Her career .963 fielding average as an infielder would have been higher except for her rookie season at third base, when she committed 47 errors in 374 chances. She and her sister Joanne combined for five batting titles.
After her playing days, she moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana where she work until retirement and moved back to her hometown of Metropolis for three years before she died of Lou Gehig’s disease in 1998. Her sister Joanne died of the same disease two years later in 2000.

Mary Froning- she was born on August 26. 1934 in Munster. Ohio. She enjoyed most things outdoors and at age 16 bean playing softball in a local Catholic League as a shortstop. She was spotted by an AAGPBL representative and invited to a tryout.She went to South Bend Indiana with her parents and vied for five spots with 200 girls in the tryouts. Mary was selected and was sent a contract for $50 a month. She stated that her dad, for the first time, realized it was for baseball and not softball.
The Battle Creek team had a dispute with the coach and Froning stayed while the majority quit the team. She now had a regular spot on the team and Froning appeared in a career-high 108 games in 1953, collecting a .108 average and a .295 on-base percentage. She also posted career numbers in runs scored (50) and RBI (26), while her 32 stolen bases ranked for the tenth best in the league.
In 1954 Froning hit .234 with three home runs and 44 RBI, tying for fifth in stolen bases (26), while managing to place second for the most outfield assists (20), being surpassed only by Kalamazoo Lassies’ Jenny Romatowski.
She went on a brainstorming tour where they played men’s teams and traveled many miles. She played with many of the best players to ever play in the AAGPBL.
Mary died in November of 2014 at age 80.

Audrey Haine- was born on May 9, 1927 in Winnipeg Canada. She was one of 47 players in the AAGPBL that hailed from Canada. She was 5’9” and 15 lbs when she decided she began playing. At first, she played for the St. Anthony Brown Bombers in Winnipeg Catholic League.
She was a right handed hitter and pitcher and on several occasions in the 1940’s, she struck out 21 consecutive batters in district play. She had a very good curveball and a rising fastball that she delivered in the sidearm mode. She also had control issues at times. However, he was a winning pitcher four seasons when she also pitched two no hitters and 15 wins or more.
In 1944, she joined the expansion team known as the Minneapolis Millerettes. This team finished 26 and half games out of first place but Haine had some decent numbers . She led the league in ERA at 4.58 and a no-hitter despite only getting eight wins.
In 1945, she suited up for the Fort Wayne Daisies where hings were better, Haine improved in a most positive environment as part of a top three pitching rotation that included Annabelle Lee and Dorothy Wiltse, going 16–10 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 decisions. She finished sixth in the league with a .615 winning percentage and tied for eight in wins. In addition, she hurled her second career no-hitter on June 15, in a rain-shortened, six-inning game.
She continued to play for Grand Rapids, Peoria and the Rockford Peaches. When she retired in 192, she got married and had six children. She was inducted both into the Canadian and the Manitoba Baseball Halls of Fame. She was a longtime resident of Bay Village, Ohio.[
Haine died on September 11, 2021

Katie Horstman- she was born on April 14, 1935 in Minster, Ohio. She was one of six children that played ball all the time as a family. She began playing softball in her hometown for the Catholic Youth Services team at the age of a fifth grader. At age 16, he was asked to tryout for the All-American Girls League of Baseball Players. She was accepted and was assigned to Kenosha comets in 1951. She was 5’7” and 150 lbs and threw right handed. She was traded to the Fort Wayne Comets at midseason and played for them until the league folded in 1954. She had a lifetime .256 batting average and played
She also went 11–5 with 57 strikeouts and a 2.32 ERA in 17 games, being selected for the All-Star Team at third base. The Daisies won the title with a 66–39 mark.
After baseball, In the 1960s, Horstman graduated from Medical Record Librarian School. She later joined the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart religious order for five years, to become the first nun in the United States to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education. For the next decade, she taught physical education in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio before returning to her hometown of Minster, where she initiated girls sports programs, including volleyball, gymnastics, basketball, track and field, cross country and softball. By 1980, she focused in coaching on track and cross country. For the next five years, her girls teams never lost a track meet. After being runner-up State Champions in 1975, the inaugural year of girls track and field, her track team won five consecutive state championships (eight overall). She also guided her cross-country running squad to two state championships. Ending up 25 years in Minster, she moved to Los Angeles, California, where she oriented a clinical social work method to the sports area. Katie is living in Palm Desert in a retirement community.

Maxine Kline- was born on September 16,1929 in North Adams, Michigan She grew up in a German home with seven brothers and two sisters and began playing softball at a young age.and was a very good basketball player that led her highschool team to three undefeated seasons. She attended an AAGPBL tryout and earned a contract to play for the fort Wayne Daisies after her high school graduation.
Kline relied on a fastball–changeup combination, mixing in her curveball sparingly. A five-time member of the All-Star Team, she hurled two no-hitters, averaged 17 wins per season with a career-high, league-leading 23 in 1950, and again led all pitchers with 18 wins in 1954, during what turned out to be the AAGPBL’s final season. She ranks third in the All-Time list with a .678 winning percentage and fifth with 116 wins. In three seasons her earned run average dropped below 2.00, for a cumulative 2.05 ERA in 1,518 innings of work.
She joined the Bill Allington All Stars and brainstormed around the country playing against men’s teams. They traveled over 10,000 miles in a station wagon and played up to and over one hundred games per year.


Delores Lee- was born April 21, 1935 in Jersey City. New Jersey. She was 5’6” and 130 lbs and threw and batted with the right hand. She played baseball with her brothers and the other boys in the streets of her neighborhood. Like many youths of her generation, she also played stickball and basketball with the boys before playing competitively at age 12 for the Santora’s Village Boys ballclub. She was discovered while still attending St. Dominic Academy.
in Jersey City. Though her school had no sports for girls, the local area provided a wide range of opportunities through the Catholic Youth Organization leagues.Dee, a ahe was called. Spent five seasons playing for the Flashettes which was managed by Slim Berger, the father of Joan Berger also a player in the AAGLBP.
It was coach Berger that recommended her to go to a tryout where at the age of 16, whe was offered and accepted to play for the Racine Belles, which was managed by ill Allington. After the folding of the league in 1954, she went on a barnstorming tour with the Bill Allington All Stars to play men’s teams all over the county.
She became a police officer in her hometown of Jersey City in 1958 and married twice with one son. She died on May 14, 2024 in New Mexico.

Magdalen Redman- she was born on July 2, 1930 in Waupan, Wisconsin. She stood 5’” and was 150 lbs.She played baseball with the neighborhood boys and never played an organized game until she was seventeen years of age. She received an invitation to a tryout in Florida by a local spout. She was offered to play for the Kenosha comets. Two years later she was traded to the Grand Rapid Chicks where she played from 1950-1954 when the league folded.
Redman enjoyed a solid career during her seven years in the league, being noted by her enthusiastic and great knowledge of the game. In her rookie season she played every fielding position except pitcher. After that she played at infield, mainly at third base, before converting to catcher for the rest of her career. She had a stellar defense, being able to catch low balls and block home plate well, which combined with a strong and secure throwing arm.
After retirement, she received he college degree and taught physical education and high school math.She was an avid golfer and also traveled long distances to teach Bible Studies to adult groups. Mamie died in Oconomowoc on August 22, 2020.

Dottie Schroeder – was born April 11, 1928 in Sadorus, Illinois. She stood 5’7” and was 150lbs. She played shortstop and hot and threw with the right hand. Dottie Schroeder probably received more media attention and signed more autographs than any other All-American. An appropriate symbol of the feminine character of a league which wanted girls to look like women but play ball like men, her pretty portrait adorned the cover of Parade Magazine in August 1948.
Dottie played for the South BandBlue Soc from 1943-1945 and Kenosha Comets for two seasons followed by the Fort Wayne Daisies In 1947-1952 and finished her career with the Kalamazoo Lassies.
She received many awards and accolades in her career such as three time all Star, Her team won championships twice, Dottoe was the all time leader in games played, runs driven in and walks. She was second in hits, and third in home runs. She is part of the Women in Baseball display for the AAGPBL in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Dottie died in 1996 at the age of 68.

Dolly Vanderlip- was born June 4,1937 in Charlotte, North Carolina. She stood 5’8” and was 180 lbs. Dolly Vanderlip [Ozburn] (born June 4, 1937) is a former pitcher who played from 1952 through 1954 in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

Dolly Vanderlip was one of the youngest players signed by the AAGPBL during its 12-year existence. At first, she attended a tryout for the league in 1950. She was 13 years old, by far one of the youngest girls in the training camp. She signed a contract with the Fort Wayne Daisies the next year, and debuted with the team on June 5, 1952, one day after her 15th birthday, under Jimmie Foxx management.
She played for Fort Wayne and South Bend in her career Her best year was in 2954 when she was turned into a starter for manger Karl Wensch. Lippy as she was known, had 19 starts she finished with an 11–6 record in a high-career 120 innings. Her 2.80 ERA was the second best in the league, being surpassed only by teammate Janet Rumsey, who finished with a 2.13 ERA. Vanderlip also finished fifth in winning percentage (.647), sixth in wins, and tied for third for the most shutouts.
“Lippy ” toured with the famous Bill Allington barnstormers after the league folded.After baseball, she met a man on tour that she married and they had two children but Dolly went to college and received three degrees from three separate universities.


By Tom Knuppel


NOTE: This is the first of two parts to Women and Baseball. ASs you can figure out, I concentrated on the players that toured with Bill Allington and his barnstormers.