Mary Pratt, Rockford Peaches Pitcher Who Helped Inspire 'A League of Their Own,' Dies at 101
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."
The AAGPBL was formed in 1943 when Major League Baseball players were called for military service during World War II. What started as a way to keep ballparks busy and produce wartime entertainment, quickly progressed into a professional league for women baseball players.
The Rockford Peaches were one of the four original teams in the AAGPBL's 11-year existence, playing from 1943 through 1954. Rockford was one of the teams featured in the 1992 film A League of Their Own.
This story was originally published by CBS Sports on May 10, 2020 at 1:35 p.m. ET.
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