Results tagged ‘ AAGPBL ’

On the road at TwinsFest

DiFranza_90.jpgBy Lenny DiFranza

I spent the last weekend of January representing the Baseball Hall of Fame at TwinsFest in the Metrodome, one of baseball’s largest fan fests. It’s great to celebrate the National Pastime in the dead of winter as the baseball world turns its attention from hot stove planning to spring training.

02-08-10-DiFranza_TwinsFest.jpgTwinsFest, a fundraiser for the Minnesota Twins Community Fund begun in 1989, has raised millions of dollars for local organizations. Many fans stopped by our spot in right field to see the artifacts we brought and to say hello, weigh Bert Blyleven’s chances for election to the Hall next year, talk about trips to Cooperstown and sign up for our membership program.

Many Twins fans, young and old, enjoyed over 50 artifacts from the Hall’s collection, like Ty Cobb’s small glove, Lou Gehrig’s jersey from his final season in pinstripes and a tunic from a 1940s Michigan team in the women’s pro league, the AAGPBL. But the most popular items were from Twins history, including the ball Dave Kingman hit into the Dome’s roof in 1984, the ball Gene Larkin knocked into left-center to win the 1991 World Series, hometown hero Joe Mauer’s bats from each of the three seasons he won the AL batting crown and the Hall of Fame plaque of Harmon Killebrew.

Many current Twins were on hand such as Mauer, Justin Morneau, Joe Nathan and new Twin Jim Thome, as well as former greats Blyleven, Rod Carew, Paul Molitor, Jack Morris and Tony Oliva. Bob Feller had Frank Howard and Denny McLain at his booth, while Fergie Jenkins led Rollie Fingers and other players raising money for Haitian relief.
 
02-08-10-DiFranza_TwinsFest2.jpgThough the Twins have hosted the Hall at TwinsFest for many years, it was my first trip to the Twin Cities. I was impressed by the friendly folks and fantastic food. I only got lost a few times in the downtown skyways and enjoyed a tour of the Twins new outdoor home, Target Field, which looks like a great place to see a game.

After a thrilling season last year and a new ballpark in 2010, I sensed a lot of excitement from the Twins and their fans. It turned out to be one of the biggest TwinsFests they’ve ever had.

Our thanks to Jackie Hoff and the team from the Science Museum of Minnesota, who installed the exhibit and showed me the ropes. The Twins’ staff was great, especially Heidi Sammon, Glo Westerdahl, and their new curator, Clyde Doepner. I hope the Twins and their fans have a great 2010.

Lenny DiFranza is the assistant curator for new media at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Giving Back to the Game

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

With more than 17,000 men having played major league baseball, little boys have plenty of baseball role models to look up to.

For girls, it is not always so easy.

Norma Metrolis, 84, passed away Tuesday at her home in Melbourne Beach, Fla. For five of those 84 years, “Trolley”, as she was known, was a catcher in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

02-03-10-Carr_Metrolis.jpgMetrolis last visited the Hall of Fame with a group of family and friends in September, happily autographing her baseball cards and posing for photos with visitors in the Museum. During a visit to the Hall of Fame Library, Metrolis pored through photos and clippings of her baseball career, telling stories and sharing memories.

Metrolis serves as a role model for me – a former college softball player – and for all of us girls who grew up loving baseball and spending our weekends covered in dirt and learning how to be tough when a ball took a bad hop and got you in the chin.

Debuting in the AAGPBL at age 19, Metrolis played for the Muskegon Lassies, Racine Belles, South Bend Blue Sox, Peoria Red Wings and Fort Wayne Daisies during her professional days. She adjusted from catching a softball to catching a baseball and even traveled to Cuba with the league to promote the game.

And she did all of this in a skirt.

When the league folded, these women didn’t have a place to play, so they went back to normal life. Metrolis spent thirty years working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a fruit and vegetable inspector. After retirement, Metrolis kept giving back to the game. She spent her free time golfing (she is credited with six hole-in-ones) and working at the Rebel Spring Games, a college softball tournament in Kissimmee, Fla.

Her family is arranging a celebration of Metrolis’s life, and donations may be made to the Rebel Spring Games for a softball player scholarship fund for college women.

Even after she’s gone, Norma Metrolis is finding a way to make little girls’ baseball dreams come true.

Samantha Carr is the media relations coordinator at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Former AAGPBL pitcher makes the pilgrimage

Wiles_90.jpgBy Tim Wiles

At age 85, Jane Jacobs Badini made her first trip to Cooperstown Friday. “I will definitely be back,” said the former pitcher for the Racine Belles (1944-45, 1947) and the Peoria Redwings (1946) of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

The native of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, made the pilgrimage along with her extended family, Niece Jeannie McCrossin, her husband William McCrossin, and daughters Khloe (17) and Amanda (15).

8-10-09-Wiles_Jacobs.jpgBadini, known by her maiden name of Jane Jacobs in her ball-playing days, enjoyed the entire museum, but especially the Diamond Dreams exhibit on the history of women in baseball (including, of course the AAGPBL), and an extended visit to the A. Barlett Giamatti Research Center, where she both donated photos and clippings from her career and received copies of other photos from the Hall’s archives. She even helped identify some former teammates who were unidentified in old team photos.

Jacobs was a relief specialist, a control pitcher who specialized in what today are called breaking pitches. An interesting moment in her career came when a male manager ordered her to throw at the head of an opposing hitter. She refused, feeling that the order was unsportsmanlike. The manager benched her for ten days – except when he would get in tight spots and need to bring in his “fireman.”

These days Badini, who is retired from a career owning a dry cleaning shop which also offers ceramics, spends her time speaking to kids groups about fair play, sportsmanship, and the history of the AAGPBL, which the kids all know about because of the popular movie A League of Their Own.

Tim Wiles is the direcotr of research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

 

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