AAGPBL Interview - Lenora Mandella
Lenora was a shortstop who was converted into a pitcher. She shared some of her memories with us.
1) How did you get interested in playing baseball and where did you play before you turned pro?
I played with the boys in my neighborhood until the age of 13. Then I played fast pitch softball in McKeespoidt, PA. for the White Street girls until 17. At that point I was picked though tryouts for the pros.
2) Describe your signing.
I was sent vie the mail a contract which I and my dad had to sign, as I was underage.
3) What position(s) did you play? Which teams did you play for?
I went in as a shortstop, but having an exceptional arm, I was turned into a pitcher.
4) What was the best thing about playing pro ball?
It was the best time of my life, meeting total strangers and becoming life-long friend. Our every year reunions are awesome.
5) What was the worst thing about playing ball?
There was no worst thing. You were doing what you loved.
6) What was the highlight of your career?
Pitching a one-hit game for the Peoria Redwings in 1951.
7) Who were the best players you played with or faced? Comments?
Sophie Kurys, Joyce Westerman, Lefty Hohlmeyer, Lefty Perez, Jean Marlowe. I could go on and on, all the women were pros.
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 press was excellent. The fans at first were skeptical, but as each game was played the crowds increased - up to 10,000 per game.
9) Who were your favorite big league ballplayers during the era you played in?
Bill Mazeroski, Roberto Clemente, and of course I'm a Pittsburgh Pirates fan. Stan Musial, Joe DiMaggio.
10) Do you follow big league ball now? If so, how do you think it compares with your day?
Yes, I do follow the big leagues today and I think it stinks. It's not a sport anymore, it's all about money and steroids.
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?)
Women should have their own majors. Keep the women and men separate. Let's face it, the dear Lord created both men and women different.
12) How do you feel about the Silver Bullets?
They were total asses to play against the men. As far as I'm concerned they were totally humiliated.
13) Briefly describe your life since your pro career ended.
After pro ball I managed fast pitch girls softball for 30 years. Was both a duck pin and ten pin bowler ranking #1 in Canada and the US for duck pins. Was an avid golfer.
14) What advice do you have for young women who want to become pro ballplayers?
My advice - stay focussed and follow your dream with any means necessary to accomplish that goal.15) Any other memories or comments?
The league is still in operation and before we all go to our eternal pie in the sky we hope to organize another pro women's baseball league.
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