AAGPBL Interview - Jean Buckley
Jean Buckley was a centerfielder in the old AAGPBL. She took the time to answer a few of our questions.
I played softball in Boston, MA. No sliding, no stealing - a team sport not dominated by a pitcher. C.Y.O Boston Parks. I was a natural.
2) Describe your signing.
There were tryouts in Dedham, MA. Just like the movie, except there was snow. A contract was not sent - but a ticket to South Bend, IN for tryouts in April - 480 women, cuts every day, an amazing time.
3) What position(s) did you play? Which teams did you play for?
Centerfield, right a little. I played for the Kenosha Comets in 1950 and 1951 and the Rockford Peaches in 1952. I bat fifth, couldn't handle the fourth place pressure.
4) What was the best thing about playing pro ball?
Traveling - Experiencing the atitude and values of the midwest. Doing something unbelievable. A variety of personalities.
5) What was the worst thing about playing ball?
Not having the good coaching needed to become a great baseball players. Not having a car. Not living in one house like the movies. Not playing in the 1940s.
6) What was the highlight of your career?
A homerun that beat Rockford that was disallowed because the substitute field was not regulation. We lost the next day. A home run between the goal post in Rockford. Being on the program cover. Never being cut or traded. Playing centerfield. Sticking in there when really hurt - not quitting.
7) Who were the best players you played with or faced? Comments?
Every team had some excellent payers. Too many to mention. Admired may for a varity of skills and attitudes.
8) Do you think the fans and press accepted you more as the years wore on? (Describe how it was when you started. Did increased exposure change some minds?)
The fans were families. The years were tough; people needed to relax. The league had class and provided great times for your buck.
9. Who were your favorite big league ballplayers during the era you played in?
Bobby Doerr, Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, the rest of the Red Sox. My mother and aunts took me on Ladies Day. I hated the Yankees.
10) Do you follow big league ball now? If so, how do you think it compares with your day?
Nope - Too many "stars." Too many with minor league talent. Too much money. Too many individuals; too few teams. The musics is too loud. The equipment is too large and the fences have been pulled in, the ball is too live. No standards, no joy...
11) Should women have their own pro league, should they play in the majors, or should we have both (a women's league and the chance for the best women players to play in the majors?)
No - women should forget baseball. Very few men can play the game well at 60'6" & 90'. Too much for women. Women should bring softball back. Lengthen the pitching circle, lengthen the bases, move back the walls. Make it a team sport without the hockey equipment. Women can bring class, teamwork, competition and all can be contenders.
12) How do you feel about the Silver Bullets?
Playing colleges was a failure - they ended up playing youngsters - Little League. No prep - no planning - no success.
13) Briefly describe your life since your pro career ended.
Wonderful! The whole Buckley clan moved to Redwood City in 1954 (Jean's street address for the time places her a few blocks from the website's location). I played for the city's team and travelled the great state.
Saved my money, atteneded SFSC, and taught elementary and junior high. Tough black and blue collar schools.
14) What advice do you have for young women who want to become pro ballplayers?
Thank God for college scholarships. A great gift! The pros are a mess right now. I don't believe pro team sports for women will be a reality with all the competition with the men.
15) Any other memories or comments?
I loved the community spirit. Loved singing on the darkened bus on the road.
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