The Pointe

MidPointe Library's Official Blog

Women's History Month #tbt - Batter's Up!

AAGPBL Teams Chicago Colleens 1950_857.96_NBL.jpg
AAG Kalamazoo Lassies 1953-54_1879-98_NBL (1).jpg

Q : Why celebrate Women’s History Month and Major League Baseball’s Opening Day in the same article?

A : To pay tribute to a Middletown woman who played professional women’s baseball, of course!

Therefore, today we honor the memory of Theresa Rukavina, a native Middletonian who was a player in what is now referred to as the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), formed during wartime in 1943 and popularly known as the inspiration for the 1992 movie, “A League of Their Own.”

According to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum website, which has an extensive collection dedicated to “Women in Baseball,” Miss Rukavina played for the Chicago Colleens and Kalamazoo Lassies in the early 1950s. She appears in black-and-white team photos on the Hall’s website.

A Wikipedia account of Miss Rukavina’s life describes her as a “versatile player during her three seasons in the league” after attracting the attention of a scout.

“Rukavina joined the Chicago Colleens and Springfield Sallies touring teams in 1950 and hit a .271 average with four home runs and 71 runs batted in in 77 games. She then filled in at many different infield and outfield positions with the Kalamazoo Lassies in 1951 and 1953, hitting 163 with one homer and 23 RBI in 147 games…,” the Wikipedia article continued.

According to the official website of the AAGPBL, Miss Rukavina, whose nickname was “Terry,” threw and batted right-handed and played utility in the infield and outfield.

After her baseball days Miss Rukavina became employed at the local Armco Steel Company.  But ballgames remained an important part of her life : she was inducted into the Butler County Ohio Softball Hall of Fame as a member of its 1986 class. Her name appears under the category “Women’s Fastpitch Hall of Fame.”

Apparently, Miss Rukavina was just as comfortable on the links as she was on a ball diamond. Her 2010 obituary states that she played with women’s pro golfer Jane Blalock in the 1979 LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) ProAm at Kings Island. Miss Rukavina, daughter of George and Rose Rukavina,   passed away in Middletown at the age of 79 in May 2010. She was survived by two sisters, many nieces and nephews and great-nieces and nephews.

On this Opening Day perhaps baseball fans will take a moment to appreciate Miss Theresa Rukavina and all the  women baseball pioneers who enriched the history of the game.

Sources:

  1. www.aagpbl.org (the official website of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Players Association).

  2. www.baseballhall.org (the official website of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum).

  3. Wikipedia-- “Terry Rukavina.”

  4. www.butlercountysoftballhof (the official website of the Butler County Ohio Softball Hall of Fame).

  5. Legacy.com (obituary).



Team photos of the Chicago Colleens and the Kalamazoo Lassies, which include Miss Theresa Rukavina, appear courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Cooperstown, New York.