AAGPBL Interview - Bea Allard
Bea Allard was a pitcher for the Muskegon Lassies of the old 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?
My dad was a great Detroit Tiger fan and I learned about baseball from him, however, I never played any organized ball prior to going into the AAGPBL.
2) Describe your signing.
I had no thought of playing in the league, but was an avid fan of the Muskegon Lassies. I had a friend who asked me to accompany her to tryouts in Chicago, as she wanted to be a catcher. We played catch while we were there and I threw as hard as I could. I wanted to make her old mitt pop and make her look good. At the ending of tryouts, League President Max Carey called me over and offered me a contract. My friend didn't make it.
3) What position(s) did you play? Which teams did you play for?
Pitcher - Muskegon Lassies 1949.
4) What was the best thing about playing pro ball?
I was only 18 years old - I had sat up in the bleachers idolizing these women for three seasons. Now here I was actually on the team with them. I was awestruck. Was still awestruck when we met in Cooperstown 40 years later.
5) What was the worst thing about playing ball?
Nothing - Except that my career ended as fast as it started, due to a shoulder injury.
6) What was the highlight of your career?
Opening night in hometown, ahead 3-2 in the ninth inning. Our pitcher had trouble and bases were loaded with nobody out. The manager tossed me a ball and said "Okay kid, see what you can do." I struck out the first two batters I faced and got the third one to pop out. Saved our game.
The next night he again tossed me the ball and said "Okay kid, you're starting tonight." I pitched 5 or good innings and was able to hit a triple first time up and a single later.
7) Who were the best players you played with or faced? Comments?
My favorite player and one of the best was our Muskegon Lassie shortstop Alva Jo "Tex" Fischer.
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 league had an avid following and plenty of coverage until about 1950 when the servicemen came home, and coverage and support shifted to the men's minor league teams in our area. Also prosperity brought autos + TV and there was more to do.
9. Who were your favorite big league ballplayers during the era you played in?
The Detroit Tigers.
10) Do you follow big league ball now? If so, how do you think it compares with your day?
I am an Atlanta Braves fan. More interested now in women's basketball, particularly the WNBA. Also follow SEC basketball, being a booster for the Auburn Lady Tigers, having lived in Auburn 10 years. I like college football, again being an Auburn Tiger fan. "War Eagle"
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 a pro league, but not play with men. Women were offered minor league contracts during our time, but declined. The physical differences are too great for a combination. Many can and did field balls as well as men, but the pitching and batting are too much in the Major Leagues.
12) How do you feel about the Silver Bullets?
Glad they got a chance, but didn't follow them and don't know how they did.
13) Briefly describe your life since your pro career ended.
Three years US Army, thirty years for Michigan Employment Service. Then moved from Grand Rapids, MI to Auburn, AL. What a beautiful little place and the college atmosphere was terrific. Retired and moved to Lillian, AL. which is near Gulf Shores and Pensecola. We try to get back to Auburn during basketball season. Do extensive travel in 29 foot motorhome. Hobby is gardening, though I don't do as much as I'd like, due to a heart condition.
14) What advice do you have for young women who want to become pro ballplayers?
Go for it!!15) Any other memories or comments?
The time they opened our exhibit in Cooperstown was one of the most emotional events of my life. Just to think I was part of it, even for a short while, was overwhelming. We are now looking forward to our reunion there sometime later this year.
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