By Samantha Carr
Generally speaking, first baseman are not known for their speed. Hall of Famer Frank Chance was an exception to that rule, once stealing a league-leading 67 bases in just 125 games in 1903.
But All-American Girls Professional Baseball League player Dorothy Kamenshek didn’t just steal more bases, she shattered Chance’s number. Kamenshek, also known as “Dottie” or “Kammie,” stole 109 bases in 107 games in 1946.
Kamenshek passed away Monday at the age of 84. She was considered by many the greatest women’s baseball player ever.
“Kammie had no weakness,” said fellow AAGPBL player Lavone “Pepper” Paire Davis. “She hit left-handed line drives and was a complete ballplayer.”
In 10 years with the league (1943-1951, 1953), Kamenshek led the league in batting twice (1946 and 1947) and stands as the league’s all-time batting leader with a .282 lifetime average.
“I’m not one for statistics, really,” Kamenshek once said. “I never paid any attention to that. I didn’t consider myself an individual player, team victories were more important to me.”
She spent her whole career with the Rockford Peaches. She was selected to play in the All-Star Game in each of the seven seasons during her career that a game was held.
It wasn’t just women who were impressed by Kamenshek.
Yankees first baseman Wally Pipp called her “the fanciest-fielding first-baseman I’ve ever seen, man or woman” after seeing her play.
She was even offered a contract with the minor league baseball club in Fort Lauderdale in 1947. She turned down the offer because she thought it was a publicity stunt. Kamenshek led her team to four league championships and retired in 1953 after suffering back injuries.
The Baseball Hall of Fame has files of clippings and photos of Kamenshek in its collections, and her memory lives on in the Diamond Dreams exhibit on the second floor of the Museum.
Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.