TDA - Ann Batikis Interview
Annastasia Batikis was a player in the old AAGPBL. She took the time to answer a few of our questions.
I was interested in playing ball since third grade. I especialy enjoyed watching the men play baseball on the playgrounds. When I got old enough to join our Rec Department League I played on softball teams in the city leagues. That's all that was offered to girls. I was on the playgrounds and in the parks - before school - after school and on weekends.
2) Describe your signing.
I tried out at Horlick Field where the Racine Belles played. I made the cut there with another girl. We were sent to Spring Training in Chicago and then I signed my contract in the off of one of the backers of the Racine team. I was just 18 - that was my senior year in high school - 1945.
3) What position(s) did you play? Which teams did you play for?
I played centerfield for the Racine Belles in 1945.
4) What was the best thing about playing pro ball?
Doing something you loved to do and then getting paid besides. Meeting so many people. Traveling.
5) What was the worst thing about playing ball?
I got scrapes and bruises - some strawberries from sliding that hurt lots - long hot rides on trains and buses.
6) What was the highlight of your career?
Just being on the team from my own home town. At that point - there was only one other gal that played for her home town.
7) Who were the best players you played with or faced? Comments?
There were so many! The gals were excellent ball players from all over the country and Canada. I especially thought Connie Wisniewski was a great pitcher. Irene "Choo Choo" Hickson a tough catcher and competitor. Sophie Kurys who took time to teach me to hook slide. Dorothy Schroeder who was the youngest player and played all the years the League operated. Maddy English at the hot corner. I could go on and on...
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?)
Racine really backed the Belles. There was someone from the newspaper there every game and we were one of the few that has someone from the radio station there too. Fans invited us to their homes for meals - they were very friendly. After seeing us play, I'm sure many many changed their minds. We were not just a novelty - we could really play ball!
9. Who were your favorite big league ballplayers during the era you played in?
I used to know them all in the 30's and 40's.
10) Do you follow big league ball now? If so, how do you think it compares with your day?
I follow some. The Brewers in Milwaukee. Cubs in Chicago. I never thought I'd say that I'd rather watch on TV than be at the game. There are too many distractions today. You can't really see the game. Too noisy, people jumping up and down - all the hoopla on the huge screens on the fields etc. etc. I like to just see the game up close.
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 don't think women should play with or against men. I do think we should have a pro league of our own. I know it has been tried in the last few years - just seems like the backing isn't there right now.
12) How do you feel about the Silver Bullets?
I saw them on TV. I never saw them live.
13) Briefly describe your life since your pro career ended.
I taught school for 35 years. Traveled the US and Canada. Took some cruises too. Do a lot of volunteer work. Still get out to schools, clubs, churches, ballteams, civic groups to give talks about our League. Slowing down now though - some health problems.
14) What advice do you have for young women who want to become pro ballplayers?
If you have a dream - work at it. Don't give up. Play hard - listen to your coaches.
15) Any other memories or comments?
Playing ball gave me the opportunity to travel, meet all kinds of neat people that I would not have met otherwise - helped with self confidence and now after all these years - we have been honored in so many ways. Halls of fame, schools and ball parks named after some of us. Invitations to radio, TV, programs and interviews - special days for us at so many of the Major League Parks. Lots of kids writing papers (at school) about us - still many asking for autographs. I can't believe this after all this time.
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