AAGPBL Interview - Lee Surkowski
Lee was one of the AAGPBL's Canadian players. She played in the mid-1940s for South Bend, Rockford and Ft. Wayne.
1) How did you get interested in playing baseball and where did you play before you turned pro?
Growing up in a small town in Canada, you played softball in the summer and hockey in the winter. I played for the Moose Jaw Royals.
2) Describe your signing.
A scout Mr. Phillip Wrigley sent out from Chicago saw me play and offered me a contract in 1943 (when the league started). I didn't sign then, however, they sent me another contract in 1944. I signed and went to Chicago. I made the league. It was very exciting, especially the charm school. I loved all of it.
3) What position(s) did you play?
I played outfield, mostly centerfield
4) What was the best thing about playing pro ball?
I loved the traveling - staying in the finest hotels - eating in the best restaurants - although the first year I was very homesick.
5) What was the worst thing about playing ball?
There was no worst thing.
6) What was the highlight of your career?
Hitting two home runs in a game against Kenosha.
7) Who were the best players you played with or faced? Comments?
Mary Baker from Regina, Canada
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 answer to your first question is yes. But were are getting more recognition now since the movie A League of Their Own came out. We get invited to a lot of fund raisers to sign autographs, etc.
9) Who were your favorite big league ballplayers during the era you played in?
Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Hank Greenberg and Bob Feller.
10) Do you follow big league ball now? If so, how do you think it compares with your day?
I really don't follow baseball too much. I do watch the Angels and Dodgers sometimes and I do watch the World Series.
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 think women should have their own pro league.
12) How do you feel about the Silver Bullets?
I've heard about them, but can't offer an opinion.
13) Briefly describe your life since your pro career ended.
A stay at home mom. I raised a family - two sons and a daughter. My daughter Teri Lee was killed in an auto accident in 1988.
14) What advice do you have for young women who want to become pro ballplayers?
Go for it!15) Any other memories or comments?
I'm 79 and looking back on my life, playing baseball were the best years of my life. The league lasted from 1943 to 1954. If I had to do it over I would have waited to get married and played until the league ended (I married in 1947).
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