Saturday, March 09, 2002

Walton baseball field named for pro pitcher

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WALTON — She's getting a field of her own.

        Pat Scott didn't really want to be a pitcher. And she had to be coaxed back into the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in 1951.

        But the Boone County native went on to play three seasons with the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Daisies, finishing with an overall ERA of 2.46, striking out 187 batters in the league made famous by the 1992 movie, A League of Their Own.

[photo] Pat Scott keeps her pitching arm in shape at age 73. She displays a baseball card that featured her and the ball she used in the 1952 pennant win over the Rockford Peaches.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
        She was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on July 24, 1989. On March 27, the baseball field at Walton Community Park will be named in her honor.

        “I'm so proud to have the city do this,” the retired medical technician and research assistant said Thursday. “It's an honor for me and for all the women who played in the league.”

        Ms. Scott, 73, tried out for the league in 1948 at Comiskey Park in Chicago and was selected. But she returned home to Burlington after spring training that year because her mother was ill and she was needed to help her father and three younger sisters.

        “I worked at the (Boone County) extension office for almost two years, and loved it,” she recalled. “We lived on a farm and my father worked for Dr. (George) Sperti. A few years later I worked with Dr. Sperti in his research lab.”

        The late Dr. George Sperti did cancer research and developed Sperti ointment for treatment of burns, Preparation H and the sun lamp.

        In 1951, an AAGPBL official contacted Ms. Scott's father and said they wanted her to come back into the league.

        “I hadn't really thought much about baseball, and was playing fast-pitch softball for a couple of years and I didn't think I could do it,” she said. “But I finally decided to give it another try.”

        She said she preferred to play a field position and was a good hitter, but she was converted to a pitcher.

        “I didn't want to pitch, but I realized I was going to have to pitch to make the team,” she said.

        She made the Fort Wayne team and was a starting pitcher for three seasons, compiling a 48-26 record. She pitched an 11-inning shutout victory over Battle Creek, Mich., in 1952, the same year she was the pitcher in the game when Fort Wayne defeated the Rockford (Ill.) Peaches, 5-1, for the season championship.

        “Jimmy Foxx was the Fort Wayne manager in 1952, and he was great,” Ms. Scott said of the Hall of Famer who set batting records playing for Philadelphia and Boston and is ninth on the list of major league career home runs with 534. “He used to tell us all sorts of great stories about the major leagues.”

        She said the movie “educated a lot of people about the league, but a lot of it was pure Hollywood. The manager, played by Tom Hanks, would never have been allowed to manage in the league if he was a drunk. There was no drinking, and it was enforced.”

        Ms. Scott, who has lived in Walton since 1965, went to Austria in 1954 as a 4-H exchange student, the last year of the AAGPBL. She enrolled at the University of Kentucky in 1955 and graduated in 1959 with a degree in zoology. She retired from the medical field in 1993.

        She's very much a baseball fan, and counts former Cincinnati Red Hal Morris among her friends. But she said she has witnessed a lot of changes in the game.

        “We played the game back then because we loved baseball, not because of the money,” she said. “We played hurt, with broken fingers and broke toes and aches and pains. We made $55 a week.”

        At its peak, during the war years, the league had about 680 women playing. At last count, Miss Scott said there were about 180 players remaining in the AAGPBL players association.

        “Those were great days in the league,” she said. “I still keep in shape, working out three times a week. I think I could still throw harder than most of the girls playing ball today.”

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- Walton baseball field named for pro pitcher