AAGPBL Interview - Betty Wagoner
Betty Wagoner both pitched and played outfield in the All American Girl's Professional Baseball League. She took some time to respond to our interview.
1) How did you get interested in playing baseball and where did you play before you turned pro?
I played softball in Phillipsburg, MO. on the boy's softball team in grade school. I played softball on the girl's softball team at Bolivar, MO. I also played on the YWCA team in Springfield, MO. for two summers. I read about the Girls League in Life Magazine when I was 12 years old. I told my parents that someday I'd like to play in that league (if I was good enough). I graduated from high school in 1948 (at 17). My folks and I went to Chicago for me to try out. I got lucky and was assigned to go to Muskegon, MI.
2) Describe your signing.
There was nothing outstanding about signing a contract. In fact, I don't even remember signing it, but I still have it.
3) What position(s) did you play? Which teams did you play for?
I played right field most of the time. I played some center field, first base and I pitched once in a while. I was sent to Muskegon after my tryout. I was there four days. We came to South Bend for a series, and I was told to stay with South Bend. I was told they flipped a coin to see which team I would play with. Neither team wanted nor needed outfielders, but they didn't want to send me home, so South Bend got stuck with me. Betty played for the next seven years
4) What was the best thing about playing pro ball?
Getting to play everyday - and getting paid for something you loved to do. It couldn't get any better than that.
5) What was the worst thing about playing ball?
Losing wasn't fun at all.
6) What was the highlight of your career?
Winning the League championship and playoffs in 1951 and 1952. Being chosen for the All Star team in 1950 was a great honor.
7) Who were the best players you played with or faced? Comments?
Jean Faut was the best player I played with. She was the best pitcher in the league and she would have been the best third baseman if she played every day. She was great. There were lots of good players. Dottie Kamensheck, Betty Foss, Jo Weaver, Doris Sams, Audrey Waner - lots of good players.
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 came in 1948 it was very popular, big crowds, but each year it became less popular. People had more money to spend, and television was getting very big. They couldn't afford to keep the league going.
9. Who were your favorite big league ballplayers during the era you played in?
Stan Musial and Ted Williams
10) Do you follow big league ball now? If so, how do you think it compares with your day?
I'm a White Sox fan. More home runs are hit today. The men today could play then, and the men "then" could play today.
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 would be very surprised if there was a woman that would be good enough to play in the major leagues. Women should play against women, and men against men. To me there is no comparison.
12) How do you feel about the Silver Bullets?
I know nothing about the Silver Bullets.
13) Briefly describe your life since your pro career ended.
My folks had moved to South Bend in 1949, so after the league folded I got a job at Bendix. I worked there for 32 years (my dad also worked there). I played basketball a few years and I bowled. I've been retired for a number of years. I have enjoyed most of it. I'm not in very good health, so I don't do too much any more.
14) What advice do you have for young women who want to become pro ballplayers?
I feel sorry for any girl that would like to become a professional baseball player. People don't seem to care that much for the woman's game. If she is very athletic, she should take up golf or tennis. They are popular.
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