Jenny Romatowski

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Jenny Romatowski
Jenny Romatowski.jpeg
All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
Catcher/Third base/Outfield
Born: (1927-09-13)September 13, 1927
Wyandotte, Michigan
Died: March 12, 2014(2014-03-12) (aged 86)
Batted: Right Threw: Right
Teams
Career highlights and awards
  • Two-time All-Star Team (1952–1953)
  • Championship team (1954)
  • Three playoff appearances (1948, 1953–1954)
  • Led all outfielders in assists (1954)
  • Women in Baseball – AAGPBL Permanent Display
    Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum (1988)

Jenniffer A. Romatowski [″Romey″] (September 13, 1927 – March 12, 2014) was an American baseball utility player who played from 1946 through 1954 in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Listed at 5 ft 4 in (1.63 m), 145 lb., she batted and threw right-handed.[1]

A brief history[edit]

During World War II, Philip K. Wrigley founded the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League as a promotional sideline to maintain interest in baseball as the military draft was depleting Major League rosters of first-line players. The league made an auspicious debut, averaging about 1,000 fans per game in 1943, while attracting about 210,000 for the entire year. The circuit excelled in attendance and performing during the 1948 season, when 10 teams attracted 910,000 paid fanatics, but by 1954, attendance dropped to only 270,000, when other interests and forms of recreation began to claim the public interest, dooming the league to extinction. It was a neglected chapter of sports history, at least until 1992, when filmmaker Penny Marshall premiered her film A League of Their Own, a fictionalized account of activities in the AAGPBL that brought a rejuvenated interest to the extinct league.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Born in Wyandotte, Michigan in 1927, Romatowski grew up playing sports with her brothers at a very early age. She participated in golf and tennis, but most of the time she played softball, mostly in the streets or in the prairies, until become a member of the Wyandotte's top girls' team. In 1946, she graduated at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte and immediately joined the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.[4]

AAGPBL career[edit]

Romatowski moved around for a while, as the AAGPBL shifted players as needed to help new teams stay afloat. She entered the league in 1946 with the South Bend Blue Sox, playing for them one year before joining the Rockford Peaches (1947). She then found herself on the move again, this time to the Chicago Colleens (1948), Racine Belles (1948), Peoria Redwings (1949) and South Bend Blue Sox (1950), before settling down with the Kalamazoo Lassies for the rest of her career (1951–1954). She was used sparingly at third base and outfield before converting to catcher.[1][5]

A competent backstop, known more for her defensive skills rather than for her offensive output, Romatowski possessed a strong arm with an extremely quick release of the throw, being appropriately dubbed Rifle Arm.[5]

In 1952, Romatowski was selected for the All-Star Team as a replacement for Ruth Richard (C) and Fern Shollenberger (3B). The All-Stars, with Bill Allington at the helm, faced the host South Bend Blue Sox, who were managed by Karl Winsch.

For the second consecutive year Romatowski joined the All-Star squad in 1953. Her most productive season came in 1954, when she posted career-highs with a .258 average and six home runs, led all outfielders with 24 assists and formed part of the Lassies team that won the championship, during what turned out to be the league's final season.[2][5][6][7][8]

Life after baseball[edit]

Following her baseball career, Romatowski graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a degree in physical education, and then she taught physical education for nearly 30 years in the Van Dyke-Warren school system until her retirement in 1983.[5][9]

Romatowski remained active by playing field hockey. A natural athlete, she later earned a spot on the United States National team and was chosen to play on an All-Star squad that toured Europe several times in the late 1950s and early 1960s. She even played in the Netherlands at the World Field Hockey tournament in 1959, and was later active as a coach and administrator, rising to first vice president of the U.S. Field Hockey Association. Her next endeavor was breeding and raising greyhound dogs for racing, competing for a number of years in Florida and Alabama.[5][9]

Honors and awards[edit]

Since 1988 Romatowski is part of Women in Baseball, a permanent display based at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, which was unveiled to honor the entire All-American Girls Professional Baseball League rather than individual baseball personalities.

In 1999 she was selected for membership in the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame, becoming only the fifth female to be enshrined in the hall.[10] Then, in 2000 she was inducted into the Eastern Michigan University Hall of Fame for her career achievements.[2][9][11]

Besides, she is one of only two women to have been inducted into the Wyandotte Sports Hall of Fame, and was also honored with membership the Michigan Amateur Sports Hall of Fame.[12]

"An important part of my involvement in greyhound racing is our adoption service", Romatowski explained in an interview. "Once a dog’s racing days are over we help people adopt them... Greyhounds make wonderful house pets".[9]

Despite her varied sports career, she confessed that never did she realize a childhood goal: becoming a long track speed skater and competing in the Olympic Games. She usually talked about that, but not much because she had so many fond memories of her athletic and teaching careers. In addition, she was active in the National Greyhound Association and owned as many as seven dogs at one time.[9]

Romatowski was a longtime resident of Palm Harbor, Florida, where she died 1n 2014 at the age of 86.[13]

AAGPBL statistics[edit]

Batting

GP AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB TB BB SO BA OBP SLG
535 1639 115 334 21 3 6 128 31 379 97 114 .204 .248 .231

Fielding

GP PO A E TC DP FA
503 1656 439 87 2182 48 .960

[14]

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ a b "All-American Girls Professional Baseball League official website – Jenny Romatowski entry". 
  2. ^ a b c "All-American Girls Professional Baseball League History". Archived from the original on 2009-08-28. 
  3. ^ IMDb.com – A League of Their Own (1992 film)
  4. ^ Encyclopedia of Women and Baseball – Leslie A. Heaphy, Mel Anthony May. Publisher: McFarland & Company, 2006. Format: Paperback, 438pp. Language: English. ISBN 0-7864-2100-2
  5. ^ a b c d e Encyclopedia of Women and Baseball
  6. ^ 1952 AAGPBL All-Star Team
  7. ^ 1954 AAGPBL All-Star Team Archived 2010-09-17 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ 1954 Kalamazoo Lassies
  9. ^ a b c d e "National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame – 1999 Inductee". 
  10. ^ http://polishsportshof.com/inductees/baseball/jenny-romatowski/
  11. ^ EMU Hall of Fame Inductees
  12. ^ Obituary
  13. ^ Obituary
  14. ^ 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