AAGPBL Interview - Bev Stuhr
Bev Stuhr played in the AAGPBL before she had to retire due to a serious injury. She later worked for Rockwell in their space and defense programs. 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 started to play baseball when I was 5 with my dad before the war. One day, I was pitching and my dad was at bat and I got hit on the nose. It was bleeding and that was the end of our game. My dad thought I would never play ball again, but I sure surprised him. When I was 9 I started to play softball on a team. From 1940-44, I played on the Legion Markets team and from 1945-48 I was on the team from the Servus Rubber company.
2) Describe your signing.
Since I was still in high school when the Peoria Redwings wanted me on their team (1949), my parents had to sign. They were very proud.
3) What position(s) did you play? Which teams did you play for?
I played right field for the Racine Belles, as well as right field and as a utility player for the Peoria Redwings.
4) What was the best thing about playing pro ball?
I caught a Texas Leaguer in my first game, and was Rookie of the Year in 1950.
5) What was the worst thing about playing ball?
I didn't really have any bad experiences in playing ball except when I got hit in the head by a ball in 1950 and had to give up playing.
6) What was the highlight of your career?
Rookie of the Year.
7) Who were the best players you played with or faced? Comments?
There were many good players and many good friends.
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?)
When I first started to play ball it was just a few stations which commented our games and each year after that more press coverage was made. Also, when we were honored at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY on November 5, 1988, that day changed our lives. However, the AAGPBL became world-renowned when the movie "A League of Their Own" was made, which related the struggles and joys of those early years.
9. Who were your favorite big league ballplayers during the era you played in?
I admired a lot of ballplayers, but my favorites were Jackie Robinson and Babe Ruth.
10) Do you follow big league ball now? If so, how do you think it compares with your day?
I keep up with all the baseball teams and try to watch every game. It is still in my blood and I love every minute of it. The games these days cannot compare with the ones we played in the early days because of the ever present press and media.
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 their own league and a chance to play in the majors.
12) How do you feel about the Silver Bullets?
I am very proud of them, they played a great game of baseball.
13) Briefly describe your life since your pro career ended.
I loved sports and played on a basketball team for 5 years and later a bowling team.
In 1959 I came to California and worked on all the space projects at Rockwell International. My career at Rockwell ended in September 1989 after 28 years in the company. I also worked on the B-1B bomber as a Q.A. Senior Technical Analyst. I'm proud of having worked on the Apollo 11 that went to the moon and all the space programs at Rockwell during those years. It was a wonderful experience.
I met my future husband, Ernest Thompson, in 1967 at the Rockwell Company. He was an engineer on the B1-B. Also being from Illinois brought us closer together and we got married in 1968. We went fishing, camping, and hunting when we had the time off. We had a good life together for 17 years. Then on his was to work on June 4, 1984, Ernest died in a car accident on the freeway. He had been working for Rockwell for 22 years.
I took care of my mother who was alone too. She was a beautician and worked until she had a stroke in 1992. After that, her health failed and she fell in the summer of 2001 and broke her hip. From that time one she went from hospital to a nursing home and passed away peacefully in 2002, at 86.
14) What advice do you have for young women who want to become pro ballplayers?
They have to love to play baseball and if they are ready to give up a lot of their time for practicing, which is true for all sports, they should go for it. I remember practicing whenever I had the chance and not doing anything else during those years. So young women who are interested in becoming pro players should be ready to give up many things. There is a lot of dedication involved, but it is well worth the effort in the end.15) Any other memories or comments?
I have a lot of great memories. I look back on those wonderful years playing for the AAGPBL and I am happy to be in the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown where my baseball glove and my original baseball are on display.
We were popular during World War II and after, until 1949 when the TV era took over and the attendance started to drop. I personally do not have many contacts with my former team members, and the closest ones have passed away, like Fay Dancer.
I have always loved to play baseball and having the opportunity to play in the AAGPBL was a dream come true for me. It was a lot of hard work because we had to practice all the time and I was still attending school, but it was worth it. I was one of the youngest on the team.
I hope that I have given you some insight as to my experience with the All American Girls Professional Baseball League.
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