From CBS Sports:
Mary Pratt, a member of the original 1943 Rockford Peaches of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), has died. She was 101 years old. Her death was confirmed on Wednesday by her nephew, Walter Pratt.
Pratt was a lefty pitcher for the Peaches and later with the Kenosha Comets. Her best season was with the 1944 Comets, finishing with 21 wins, a 2.50 ERA and 26 strikeouts. Pratt was a graduate of Boston University with a degree in physical education and she had a 40-plus year teaching career. She also spent time officiating basketball, softball, field hockey and lacrosse games.
"It was in 1943 that I had the opportunity to become a member of the AAGPBL," Pratt wrote on the AAGPBL website. "In June of that year, I was contacted by personnel in Chicago and flew out to Chicago after the close of school. I was met by Mr. Ken Sells, appointed by Mr. Philip Wrigley as President of the AAGPBL. I was escorted to Rockford and joined that team. That evening, Rockford was in the process of playing a league game at the 15th Ave. stadium. That was my introduction into the All-American and the start of five wonderful summers as a member of the league, 1943-47. I was fortunate to have participated during those eras."
By September of 1945 a whopping 9% of Americans were active military, most of them men. While about 350K women served as well, women stepped up majorly on the home front, too, filling the voids of all those who were gone. Any job you can think of they had covered, and that included entertainment and even pro sports.
That's because more than 500 MLB players from across the league were off to war. Among them, stars like Ted Williams who served as a fighter pilot in both WWII and Korea. The war also put careers on hold for thousands of minor leagers, like 19-year-old Yogi Berra who provided fire support from a rocket boat off the coast of Normandy Beach on D-Day.
Thus, the AAGPBL (All American Girls Professional Baseball League) was formed. As you know from the movie A League Of Their Own it began as a way to keep ballparks afloat but became so much more.
Not trying to compare WWII to what we're going through today, but I feel it does go to show that sports are an important pass-time to our culture & well-being. Giving a stressed-out, heartbroken nation a chance to relax their minds & enjoy themselves was important. These women and what they did really mattered.
Here's Pratt at her 100th birthday last year where she was still all smiles and entertaining others. RIP to a trailblazer who lived an amazing life.