Jean Havlish

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Jean Havlish
All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
Shortstop
Born: (1935-11-23) November 23, 1935 (age 81)
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Batted: Right Threw: Right
debut
1953
Last appearance
1954
Teams
Career highlights and awards
  • Two-playoff appearances

Jean Ann Havlish [Grasshopper] (born November 23, 1935) is a former female shortstop who played from 1953 through 1954 in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Listed at 5' 6", 130 lb., Havlish batted and threw right-handed. She was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota.[1][2]

Brief profile[edit]

A slick-fielding shortstop, Jean Havlish joined the Fort Wayne Daisies during the last two seasons of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. She posted a modest .218 batting average in 193 games, but provided outstanding defense with a strong and secure throwing arm. After the league disbanded in 1954, Havlish went on to play elite fast-pitch softball and then to compete successfully in bowling for over three decades, leading the WIBC Top Twenty Year Average list for many years.[1][3]

Early life[edit]

Havlish was one of five siblings of Howard Havlish, a full-time worker for the Great Northern Railroad, and Mary (Sheskern) Havlish, who labored part-time for the Internal Revenue Service. At age eight, Havlish was watching the older girls play when the shortstop got hurt. She was given an opportunity to play, and after that she played all the time. I can't even remember not playing baseball, she recalled in an interview. Havlish added that she started playing baseball in an empty cornfield near her home with all the neighborhood boys. While attending Washington High School, she developed as a multi-talented athlete, playing hockey, football, basketball, baseball and softball and competed in speed skating. She graduated from there to playing organized softball in the playground leagues. The only thing I could not play was tennis, she acknowledged.[4][5][6]

In 1950, Havlish and her father saw an article in Parade Magazine about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League and decided that she should try out. Havlish had the opportunity to do a little infield practice with the Racine Belles and received an invitation to a full-scale audition the next year. She was allocated to the Kalamazoo Lassies in 1951 but never heard from them. Eventually, she wound up with the Fort Wayne Daisies in 1952 in a shortstop swap that sent Dottie Schroeder to Kalamazoo. After three tryouts for three different teams, Havlish went back to school and entered the league in 1953 with the Daisies, by then managed by Bill Allington.[4][5]

AAGPBL career[edit]

As a rookie in 1953, Havlish struggled at the plate, hitting just .189 (64-for-343), but she excelled in the field preventing runs for a team particularly potent on offense.[4]

In that season the Daisies outscored their nearest rival by over 100 runs, winning theleague title with a 66-39 mark. The explosive bats of Wilma Briggs and the sisters Betty Weaver Foss and Joanne Weaver provided the difference in the league. While Briggs belted a league-lead nine home runs, Joanne led in average (.346) and Betty in runs batted in (81) and stolen bases (80), but Fort Wayne lost for the third consecutive year in the first round, now with the Kalamazoo Lassies, 2-to-1.[7]

In the 1953 All-Star Game, played on July 14 at Memorial Park, the Daisies defeated the All-Star team in an 11-inning effort behind Jean Geissinger, who belted a walk-off home run, and Katie Horstman, whose relief pitching silenced an All-Stars potential rally in the 9th inning.[8][9]

Havlish improved her offensive and defensive statistics in 1954, when she connected 11 more hits in 67 fewer at-bats for a .254 average (70-for-276), including hitting a home run in three consecutive games. At the field, she committed 18 fewer errors, participated in 14 more double plays, and started a triple play. Notably, she played in 14 fewer games due to an injury, but also had three times as many doubles, 11 more walks and 24 fewer strikeouts (she fanned only 16 times). During what turned out to be the league's final season, Kalamazoo clinched the Championship Title over Fort Wayne, three games to two.[4][7]

After the AAGPBL disbanded in 1954, Havlish was quickly recruited by the elite Minneapolis Comets amateur fast-pitch softball team. As shortstop for the Comets, she traveled twice to the world championships in Connecticut.[4]

She later started to play bowling recreationally in a 3M Company league that met in the upstairs of a St. Paul bar owned by Jake Mauer, grandfather of the Minnesota Twinscatcher Joe Mauer.[4]

Bowling career[edit]

Eventually, Havlish went up against the very best women bowlers in the country. A member of the St. Paul Women's Bowling Association for over 30 years, she participated in 28 state and numerous national amateur competitions, winning the State 600 Tournament four times. She won the singles and all-events titles in the WIBC Championship Tournament in 1964, becoming the first Minnesotan to do so, and was state All Events champion in 1964 and 1968.[3][4][5]

In addition, Havlish was part of a team that placed third in the WIBC Championship Tournament in Tulsa; won the Singles and All Events in that tournament in Minneapolis, and was on a local championship team that won the All Events in the local tournament twice. She led the WIBC in 20-year average for many years, captured the 600 Club Championship three times, had the high game in the St. Paul Association three times and the high series five times.[3][4][5]

Havlish posted the high game in the St. Paul Association three times and the high series five times; had the high average in the city nine times and was on the All City team six times, reigning as Queen three times. She also was successful on the pro bowling tour, winning titles in Indianapolis, Kansas City and Fort Smith, and competed in the FIQ Tournament in Winnipeg, where the five-woman team won gold medals and the three-woman team earned bronze medals. She originated the Great Lakes Invitational Tournament (GLIT) in the late 1960s, made the Bowlers Journal first All-American Team in 1969, and had several high games of 299 and sixteen 700s during her bowling career, including a high series of 736, and maintaining an average of 185 or better for at least twenty-five years with a high average of 196.[3][4][5]

Awards and recognitions[edit]

Havlish is included in a Women in Baseball permanent display, which was opened in 1988 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York to honor the entire All-American Girls Professional Baseball League rather than any individual player. Havlish kept the glove she used at shortstop for the Daisies in her car for many years, because her gas station attendant liked to play catch with her. In 2009, the glove was accepted by the Hall of Fame as part of the AAGPBL memorabilia.[4][7]

In 1992, Havlish, Kay Heim and Nancy Mudge, two other Minnesota residents and former AAGPBL players, were invited to throw out the first pitch in a game Angels-Twins played at the Metrodome. The trio also was honored by the Colorado Silver Bullets all-female baseball team in their 1994 inaugural season, in which they threw out the first ball pitch of a game celebrated in Saint Paul.[4][10]

In 1999, as century and millennium retrospectives abounded in magazines and newspapers, the Minneapolis Star Tribune named Havlish one of the top Minnesota athletes of the millennium,[11] and Sports Illustrated ranked her 36th among the 50 top Minnesota athletes of the 20th century.[12]

Additionally, Havlish gained inductions in the Women's International Bowling Congress Hall of Fame in 1987, the Minnesota State Women's Hall of Fame in 1991, the St. Bernard’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007, and is also a member of the Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame since 1987, having the distinction of being the only bowler in this society which is displayed at the Metrodome.[4][13][14][15]

Havlish currently lives in Rockville, Minnesota, where she is housekeeper for a priest. She continues to drive into St. Paul once a week to participate in the St. Paul Ladies’ All-Star League.[3][4][5][16]

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ a b "All-American Girls Professional Baseball League - Jean Havlish page". 
  2. ^ The Women of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League: A Biographical Dictionary – W. C. Madden. Publisher: McFarland & Company, 2005. Format: Paperback, 295 pp. Language: English. ISBN 0-7864-3747-2
  3. ^ a b c d e "St. Paul Women's Bowling Association". 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Jean Havlish biography by Anne Aronson". 
  5. ^ a b c d e f "The Diamond Angle – An interview with Jean Hablish". 
  6. ^ The Women of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
  7. ^ a b c "All-American Girls Professional Baseball League History". Archived from the original on 2009-08-28. 
  8. ^ All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Record Book – W. C. Madden. Publisher: McFarland & Company, 2000. Format: Paperback, 294pp. Language: English. ISBN 0-7864-3747-2
  9. ^ 1953 All-American Girls Professional Baseball League All-Star Team
  10. ^ Colorado Silver Bullets Webpage
  11. ^ Star Tribune Millenium: Top 100 Sports Figures[dead link]
  12. ^ Sports Illustrated - 50th Anniversary
  13. ^ WIBC Hall of Fame members
  14. ^ Minnesota State Women's Hall of Fame
  15. ^ Baseball in Fort Wayne
  16. ^ The Celebrity Black Book 2010 – Jordan Mcauley. Publisher: Mega Niche Media, 2009. Format: Paperback, 814pp. Language: English. ISBN 1-60487-014-1