AAGPBL Interview - Ruth Williams
Ruth Williams once pitched 46 consecutive scoreless innings in the All American Girl's Professional Baseball League. Despite some serious health problems, she responded to our interview. Ruth Williams passed on February 10, 2005. The thoughts and best wishes of The Diamond Angle go to her family and friends.
1) How did you get interested in playing baseball and where did you play before you turned pro?
I only played softball - at the age of 12 I played on a church team with all adults. I played softball in New York with the West New York Traders for 2 seasons and got travel expenses and meal money.
2) Describe your signing.
I tried out for the league in 1946 in Allentown, PA. and of over 200 girls trying out they chose two - fortunately I was one of the two.
In less than a week I reported to the Chicago office. I was assigned to the Fort Wayne Daisies. At the end of the season I was traded to the South Bend Blue Sox and was lucky to pitch as a baseball pitcher (overhand).
3) What position(s) did you play? Which teams did you play for?
The few times I got in a game in Ft. Wayne I played left field and second base. From 1947 to 1950 I pitched for South Bend. I was traded to the Peoria Red Wings and two weeks later went to Kalamazoo for 1950 to 1953.
4) What was the best thing about playing pro ball?
The companionship, meeting players and fans all over; being part of something very special was indeed wonderful. I made enough money to help put me through college. I seldom if ever wondered why I was playing - I loved it and the competition it afforded me.
5) What was the worst thing about playing ball?
I never thought that there was any worst - I would have been happier if I could have played basketball, my favorite sport.
6) What was the highlight of your career?
Finishing with a career ERA of 2.19 and pitching a 16-inning game against my old team mates, the South Bend Blue Sox and losing a 1-0 game to Jean Faut. We both pitched all 16 innings but I always felt that I was beaten by the best.
Also, I pitched 46 consecutive scoreless innings - the best after we started playing baseball (pitching overhand).
7) Who were the best players you played with or faced? Comments?
Jean Faut, South Bend Blue Sox - Best pitcher in the league and could also play third base and
was a very good hitter. Smart baseball.
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?)
Not increase exposure but success in your playing. The most difficult part was playing to prov you were good enough - I played from 1946 to 1953 (I then chose marriage over baseball).
9. Who were your favorite big league ballplayers during the era you played in?
I wasn't interested in the majors at that time. Some of my all time favorites were Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Cochrane, Bob Feller and White Ashburne. Today my favorites are Jim Thome, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Barry Bonds and Chipper Jones.
10) Do you follow big league ball now? If so, how do you think it compares with your day?
I am an addict with televsion baseball. I am a Phillies fan and an Atlanta Braves follower. I also am a Yankees fan. I watch every time there is a game on TV. I used to go and see the Phillies (had 4 box seats one season after I retired from teaching - I thought I died and went to heaven), but I am not well enough to go to the games.
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 absolutely believe that women should have their own league.
I abhor the thought of women playing in the majors or the minors.
Women cannot compete with men - the best men are far superior to the best women and I say this convinced they cannot compete with men.
12) How do you feel about the Silver Bullets?
I went to see them play in Scranton, PA. and was not overly impressed when I compared them with the AAGPBL. In my assesment only two or three would have made a starting line-up in our league.
13) Briefly describe your life since your pro career ended.
I started teaching in 1947-48 and never went to spring training as I could not give up my teaching and coaching job. I eventually became a Health Specialist with a Master's degree (with honors and 46 additional gradate credits) in Health Education. I taught in the same high school for 35 years. I married Leonard Heverly, an English teacher, in 1953. We adopted a son, Michael, who is now my primary caregiver as I have been ill since the mid-eighties.
14) What advice do you have for young women who want to become pro ballplayers?
Hope and pray that someone will organize and start another league like the AAGPBL
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