AAGPBL Interview - Nancy Mudge
Many players leave school early to turn pro, Nancy Mudge was told to put off reporting so she could graduate from college. 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 was in college in Indiana when a coach saw me playing field hockey. He said something like this: "Hey, you are a pretty good athlete, did you know there is a women's league?" Of course I did not. But the result was that I had a try-out in Ft. Wayne with the Daisies.
2) Describe your signing.
Between my junior and senior years in college I was given a contract with a farm club (Chicago Colleens). I tore cartilage in my knee that Summer that required surgery and rehab. I did that and the year I graduated from college I was given a contract Kalamazoo (the Lassies). Interestingly I had a letter from the league commissioner telling me to graduate from college then to come to Kalamazoo late. Can you imagine that?
3) What position(s) did you play? Which teams did you play for?
I played second base. I always considered myself a Kalamazoo Lassie, although one year we went to Muskegon for a while to see if that city would support a team, the same thing happened and we went to Battle Creek.
4) What was the best thing about playing pro ball?
The best thing for me was playing with women who were good athletes and were competitive.
5) What was the worst thing about playing ball?
The fact that it ended in 1954.
6) What was the highlight of your career?
I suppose when Kalamazoo would have been considered a Cinderella team. First, in the All Star Game we had an all Kalamazoo infield. Second, Kalamazoo played Ft. Wayne (a powerhouse) in the Shaughnessy Playoffs (for the league championship). It was a best of seven series and Kalamazoo won the seventh game. Very exciting.
7) Who were the best players you played with or faced? Comments?
I always considered Jean Faut the best player I knew. I think Dottie Kamenshek is regarded by some as the best, but she was at her peak before my time. I considered Dottie Schroeder (our shortstop) as having a great pair of hands and a quick release on her throw. I thought Fern Shollenberger was a great third baseman. I used to marvel at her throws to first because one would think that her throws should never beat the runner, but it always did.
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 did not concern myself with this at the time. In retrospect - I thought the Kalamazoo Gazette (daily newspaper) gave the Lassies very good coverage and we were often on the radio for interviews.
9) Who were your favorite big league ballplayers during the era you played in?
Well, I don't think I was terribly interested. I thought Larry Doby whipped the bat around like I had never seen. I thought the Yankees were great. Of course, I grew up in a small town in upstate New York.
10) Do you follow big league ball now? If so, how do you think it compares with your day?
Yes, I follow it. The fact is, that I love ballplayers who play for the love of the game. They are difficult to find now. Most are more interested in the money they sign for. There are two boys from St. Paul who may fill the bill more me. One has signed with the Twins, we shall see.
In a few years (he is in college now) watch for a young man named Baden Mudge. I don't know is he has the skill to make it - but he loves the game and is teachable and correctable.
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?)
Definitely not the latter. Time will tell with respect to the former. I thought the gals who won the Summer Olympics were outstanding athletes. I do not want to see money and or drugs have a priority, or even a place in women's competitive sports.
12) How do you feel about the Silver Bullets?
Well, I saw them play in St. Paul, MN. I thought they were good. How good - I am not certain. They competed with men and that is not (too me) appropriate.
13) Briefly describe your life since your pro career ended.
Well, I've played slow pitch. It was too slow. I coached a team one year. They did not ask me to return because they did not share my competitive spirit nor like it when I corrected them for mental errors.
Actually, my Christ-centered activity has been my life. But I also play tennis and racquetball and do a lot of active things on my 110 acres.
14) What advice do you have for young women who want to become pro ballplayers?
I have not thought about it. I guess I would give them the same advice I have given my grandchildren - "Play so vigorously and so well that the coach cannot keep you out of the game. Secondly, don't ever let money be your god - it is a killer."
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