AAGPBL Interview - June Peppas
June Peppas joined the AAGPBL as it converted from underhand to overhand pitching. She played in the league until it finally folded. In fact, she won the final game in AAGPBL history. Here she answers a few questions from TDA.
1) How did you get interested in playing baseball and where did you play before you turned pro?
Always into athletics, played amateur softball in the fourties in Ft. Wayne, IN. Was scouted for baseball in 1947.
2) Describe your signing.
Offered contract for both Professional Softball and the All American league. Because of the more disciplined league, decided on All Americans.
3) What position(s) did you play? Which teams did you play for?
Played outfield, pitching and first base. Spent most of my time at first base and pitching. Started with Ft. Wayne, traded to Racine, franchise went to Battle Creek and then traded to Kalamazoo where I spent most of years.
4) What was the best thing about playing pro ball?
There were great experiences in playing ball. The professionalism encountered, great players and managers we had such as Dottie Kamenshek, Tiby Eisen, Maxine Kline, Dave Bancroft, Jimmie Foxx and Max Carey.
5) What was the worst thing?
Long rides for road trips, and injuries.
6) What was the highlight of your career?
There were many highlights. But the greatest was our team "Kalamazoo Lassies" winning the 1954 championship, which was also the last game played.
7) How about listing an All-Star team from the League?
Dottie Kamenshek, first base; Sophy Kurys, second base; Snookie Doyle, shortstop; Fern Shollenberger, third base; Ruth Richards, catcher; Tiby Eisen, Rosie Gachioch, Faye Dancer and many more outfielders; Jean Faut, Doris Sams, Connie Wisnewski, Max Kline just for starters on the mound. Let's not forget some great managers: Bill Allington, Dave Bancroft, and Johnny Rawlings just to name a few. We must also remember chaperones like Bobbie Liebrich, Marge Stefani, Doris Tetzlaff, and Dottie Hunter.
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?)
Fans accepted us then. We were forgotten for years after league folded. When we again surfaced, Title IX was in place and women were starting to take their place. The All Americans were considered pioneers. My family and friends were totally accepting of my ball playing and were the first ones to the park. When I started, I was a wild lefthanded pitcher having to overcome conversion of softball windmill pitching to overhand smaller ball. I was a fair hitter, thus becoming familiar to playing first base. It was a real change along with a couple severe injuries. But family and friends stayed right behind me giving much encouragement.
9. Who were your favorite big league ballplayers during the era you played in?
Bob Lemon, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial were among my top choices for big leaguers.
10. Do you follow big league ball now? If so, how do you think it compares with your day?
I follow many sports today both men and women. The major leagues of men and women were the best in our day, but, don't try to compare today's athletes with then. We did not have the facilities, nutritional consultants, etc. We were the best in that era.
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?)
I believe, as sports are going today, one day there will be another professional women's baseball league such as we had. There are some today and they may, in time, evolve to the level and surpass what we had, but I believe that the men should have their major league and the women have their major league. If you look up the records of old, you will find we were listed with the men's major league as the women's major league of its day.
12. With all the progress women have made in recent years, why do you think there is no pro women's league?
There is, but not much notoriety and do not know their skill abilities.
13. How do you feel about the Silver Bullets?
The Silver Bullets were fantastic. The mistake they made and many of our players will agree was to have them barnstorm against men. Men are too strong for them to play. Observed a game in Lansing, MI. The girls were great in all respects, but the men had the strength and were not going to let the girls win. Saw several gals taken out and it wasn't very pretty.
14. Briefly describe your life since your pro career ended.
My life has been very good to me. Pro ball helped me be competitive in many different respects. I am a college graduate with a masters, have worked in industry, did some teaching, owned a business, and now retired playing a good competitive game of golf.
15. What advice do you have for young women who want to become pro ballplayers?
Follow your dream and do the very best you can. If you make it in pro sports, great. The experiences will certainly make a better person of you. Look what life now has to offer in comparison with ours. Be your own person.
16. Any other memories or comments?
I would never trade my experiences of playing ball, etc. for anything in the world. My ball days made many great friendships, which will last till I'm gone. Memories can never be taken from you.
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