AAGPBL Interview - Jean Smith
Jean Smith was a long time player in the AAGPBL. She granted us the following interview.
1) How did you get interested in playing baseball and where did you play before you turned pro?
I have been interested in all sports - I was a pitcher with the Dads Root Beer softball team in Ann Arbor, MI. We were state champs in 1947. I also held the Ann Arbor City Table Tennis title until I left to play in the AAGPBL 1948. I placed second in the state table tennis tournament in 1943 at age 15 - playing baseball was a dream come true!
2) Describe your signing.
After being selected at a try-out camp in Grand Rapids I was sent a contract in the mail for me to sign and also to be signed with consent with my parents or guardian. Both my parents gave me their permission.
3) What position(s) did you play? Which teams did you play for?
I played all three outfield positions, liking center the best. I also did a little
4) What was the best thing about playing pro ball?
I got paid for something I loved to do. Traveling. Making friends.
5) What was the worst thing about playing ball?
Getting in shape during spring training: sore muscles and blisters.
6) What was the highlight of your career?
Every day and game I played during my seven year career was a highlight. Being on the All Star Team in 1954.
7) Who were the best players you played with or faced? Comments?
I couldn't name them all, they were the very best! As for some I faced: Lois Florreich, a pitcher, I very seldom got a hit off her!
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 fans and the press accepted us after they saw us play and still accepted us til the very end.
9. Who were your favorite big league ballplayers during the era you played in?
All the Detroit Tigers were my favorites!
10) Do you follow big league ball now? If so, how do you think it compares with your day?
We didn't have any of the equipment they have now such as batting helmets and gloves or leg and arm protection.
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?)
12) How do you feel about the Silver Bullets?
Don't even know who the Silver Bullets are.
13) Briefly describe your life since your pro career ended.
I am very satisfied with what I'm doing and what I have done since my career ended. I still get itchy when spring training rolls around!
14) What advice do you have for young women who want to become pro ballplayers?
If that's what they want, go for it and work hard at it! I doubt there will ever be a women's pro league that generated the attention as our league did.15) Any other memories or comments?
Every day playing in the AAGPBL was a memory!
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