Page 54

“A League of Their Own” Anniversary Edition by Rich Lipinski

July is the 20th anniversary of “A League of Their Own”. It wasn’t just a great baseball movie; it was a movie that remembered an important part of American History. The AllAmerican Girls Professional Baseball League gave over 600 women athletes the opportunity to play professional baseball and to play it at a level never before attained. The League operated from 1943 to 1954 and represents one of the most unique aspects of our nation's baseball history. The movie was a dramatization, and its characters were loosely based compilations of league members. The movie featured Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madona and Lori Petty. The film was released on July 1, 1992, and was #1 by its second weekend, It was a commercial success, making $107 million in the United States on a $40 million budget, and was well-received by critics. We are the members of the All-American League. We come from cities near and far. We've got Canadians, Irishmen and Swedes, We're all for one, we're one for all We're All-Americans! These are some the words from Victory Song, the anthem from All-American Girls Professional League Players Association. They did come from cities near and far and they came from Northeast Pennsylvania. Sarah “Salty” Sands (Ferguson) Orangeville - In 1952, she became a member of the AAGPBL. She played as a catcher and right fielder during the 1953 and 1954 seasons for the Rockford Peaches of Illinois. Sands began her athletic career as a

bat girl for Orangeville’s TriCounty League baseball team at the age of six. In 1949, when she was a freshman at Bloomsburg High School, Sands played on the girl’s varsity basketball team. A year later, at a time in which there was not much of a place for women’s sports, the program ended. Other than a few occasional pick-up softball games, Sands had no additional athletic experience until 1953 when she became a member of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. In the fall of 1952, a family friend of the Sands’ was doing business in Allentown with a man named Charles Schuler. After some conversation, the friend came to find that Mr. Schuler was a scout for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The moment Sands’ father caught wind of this news he contacted Mr. Schuler, who invited Sands and her father to his home to see Sands perform. After Sands threw five pitches, Mr. Schuler turned to Sands’ father and informed him that he would be sending Sands to the Rockford Peaches in Illinois the following spring for pre-season training. She played during the final two seasons for the Rockford Peaches, managed by John Rawlings, which was one of the two teams that were part of the league for all 12 seasons. The team played six games a week and double-headers on Sundays. Sands made $200 a month during her first year. Sands made the second All Star team during her second season in 1954. During her professional career she only committed 14 errors in 136 games, with a fielding percentage of .936. She also had 27 assists, most of which were made from right field. After the league ended in 1954, she worked for the US military in various capacities. In 1957 she married William Ferguson. In 1960 Sarah returned to Orangeville with her husband and started their family, a son William Jr. and a daughter Tammy. For the past 50 years Ferguson has been involved with the local sports scene as player and a coach. Ferguson was inducted into Bloomsburg High School’s Graduates of Distinction in April of 2003. Then, in 2006 she was named “Wom-

an of the Year” by the Women’s Conference at Bloomsburg University. She was one of 42 players to participate in the final scene of “A League of Their Own” and attended the premier in New York City. Teams-Rockford Peaches (1953, 1954) Ruth Williams (Heverly) Nescopeck - played in AAGPBL from 1947 to 1953. After graduating from Nescopeck High School she went to East Stroudsburg University where she obtained a teaching degree and was star athlete. In 1988 she was inducted into the East Stroudsburg Hall of fame. In 1946 she attended a league tryout in Allentown, she was only one of two players (200 attended tryout) to be picked for the league. She was assigned to the Fort Wayne Daisies. She was primarily a pitcher finishing with a ERA of 2.19 and had a record 46 consecutive scoreless innings. She started teaching in 1947 and would not attend spring training, since she could not give up her teaching job. She married Leonard Heverely in 1953, adopted a son Michael. She taught for 35 years. After her retirement she became involved in the leagues reunions and events. Ruth passed away February 10, 2005. Teams-Kalamazoo Lassies (1950, 1951, 1952, 1953), Peoria Redwings (1950), South Bend Blue Sox (1947, 1948, 1949, 1950)

50 • Panorama Community Magazine: Summer Fun Outdoor & Recreation Guide

2012 July Panorama Community Magazine  

Panorama Community Magazine's June Issue Hazleton & Surrounding Area's Community Magazine