AAGPBL Interview - Anna Mae O'Dowd
Anna Mae was a catcher in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. She took the time to answer a few of our questions.
1) How did you get interested in playing baseball and where did you play before you turned pro?
I always loved baseball. My brother, a very good athlete, taught it to me at a very young age. However, I never played anything more but "neighborhood" baseball until I joined the League.
2) Describe your signing.
Oops! Old age is catching up with me. I know I signed a contract but I really can't remember any of the details.
3) What position(s) did you play? Which teams did you play for?
I wanted to be a first baseman, but the manager said I would be a better catcher since I was right handed. Therefore, I was a catcher about 95% of the time and played first base only about 5%.
My baseball card states that I played for Kenosha, Kalamazoo, Racine and Battle Creek. However, I also played for Rockford.
4) What was the best thing about playing pro ball?
Getting to know people from all over the country, as well as Canada and Cuba, and having the opportunity to travel to different cities. I had never been out of the State of Illinois before joining the League.
5) What was the worst thing about playing ball?
Regarding the actual playing of baseball, double headers were the worst, especially playing them during the day in the summer heat. However, I also found it difficult to be away from my family for several months at a time, since I had never been away from them.
6) What was the highlight of your career?
Unfortunately, I can't remember any events that I could call a highlight. I'm sure I had some game winning hits and the like, but I don't remember anything specific.
7) Who were the best players you played with or faced? Comments?
Doris Sams. She was not only a terrific pitcher, she was also an outstanding longball hitter.
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?)
I played in three of the "middle years" of the League (1949-51). Because I only played for three years and it was neither at the beginning or end of the League, I did not really notice any change in acceptance. However, when I played the fans were always very enthusiastic and they liked the ballplayers. In fact, fans frequently invited players to their houses for dinner. The press, also, always seemed accepting and positive regarding our league.
9. Who were your favorite big league ballplayers during the era you played in?
Lou Cavaretta, Peanuts Lowrey and Phil Nicholson. I was a Cubs fan.
10) Do you follow big league ball now? If so, how do you think it compares with your day?
Yes, I do follow big league ball now. The players are bigger and stronger today, but more emphasis is put on strength training today. The players in the '40s and '50s seemed to play harder and with more dedication to the game.
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?)
My preference would be to have a women's league and not have women play in the men's league.
12) How do you feel about the Silver Bullets?
I have not followed the Silver Bullets and therefore can't really answer this question.
13) Briefly describe your life since your pro career ended.
After leaving the League, I went to work full time. Although most of my jobs were in office management, my last position was at Ameritech Communication as a buyer/planner. I retired in 1992 and moved from Chicago to Atlanta. I spent ten years in Atlanta and then moved to Ft. Myers, Florida, where I spend my time playing golf, traveling and just generally enjoying retired life.
14) What advice do you have for young women who want to become pro ballplayers?
As in any sport, you have to be dedicated to the game, which means practice, practice, practice.15) Any other memories or comments?
I spent three wonderful years playing in the League. I feel so lucky to have been a part of it. And I'm very happy that the movie "A League of Their Own" was made. It gave the entire country the opportunity to learn about our league and women's baseball.
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