|All-American Girls Professional Baseball League|
September 16, 1929 |
North Adams, Michigan
|Career highlights and awards|
Maxine Kline [Randall] (born September 16, 1929) is a former female starting pitcher who played from 1948 through 1954 with the Fort Wayne Daisies of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Listed at 5' 7", 130 lb., she batted and threw right-handed.
During seven years Kline was one of the best overhand pitchers in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. She relied on a fastball–changeup combination, mixing in her curveball sparingly, with an impeccable control over location. A five-time member of the All-Star Team, she hurled two no-hitters, averaged 17 wins per season with a career-high, league-leading 23 in 1950, and again led all pitchers with 18 wins in 1954, during what turned out to be the AAGPBL's final season. She ranks third in the All-Time list with a .678 winning percentage and fifth with 116 wins. In three seasons her earned run average dropped below 2.00, for a cumulative 2.05 ERA in 1,518 innings of work.
A native of North Adams, Michigan, Kline grew up in the close-knit of Addison. The daughter of German farmers, she had seven sisters and two brothers. Kline played softball while growing up and later attended North Adams High School, where she led the basketball team to three undefeated seasons. She later attended an AAGPBL tryout in Fort Wayne, Indiana and earned a contract to play with the local Daisies, joining the team after her graduation in 1948.
Initially playing with a softball, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League eventually employed a regulation baseball, with overhand pitching permitted starting in 1948. This innovation did not disrupt Kline, unlike many pitchers in the league. She started her career at outfield, but was promoted to a Daisies pitching staff riddled with injuries to take advantage of her strong throwing arm and well-deserved self-confidence. She shutout oponnents in her first two starts, ending her rookie season with an 8-13 record and a 2.25 ERA.
Kline had a 14-11 mark overall in 1949, including a no-hitter against the Grand Rapids Chicks on June 12 of that year. Her most productive season came in 1950, when she paced the circuit with her career top 23 wins for only nine losses. She made the All-Star Team for the initial time, and also collected career-numbers in strikeouts (87) and pitching appearances (33), while posting a .719 winning percentage and 2.44 ERA. Her winning percentage was even better in 1951 as she went 18-4 (.818). In addition, she earned her second All-Star berth.
In 1952, Kline threw six shutouts en route to a 19-7 record and her third All-Star selection. She dropped to 16-14 in 1953, but again joined the All-Star squad. In the league's hitting-dominated last season in 1954, she led all pitchers in wins (18), appearances (28), complete games (24), innings (181) and shutouts (6), while recording her second no-hitter on June 20, once again against the Grand Rapids Chicks. During her career, she exhibited particular dominance against the Chicks and once hurled a 17-inning shutout against them. For the fifth consecutive year she became an All-Star.
While the Daisies made the playoffs in the seven seasons that Kline pitched for them, the team struggled during the postseason and never won a Championship Title. From 1947 to 1951 Fort Wayne was eliminated in the opening round, being knocked out by the South Bend Blue Sox in 1952 and the Grand Rapids Chicks in 1953, after posting the best regular-season record. Then, in 1954 the Daisies disposed of Grand Rapids and South Bend in the playoffs, advancing to the Championship Series to face the Kalamazoo Lassies, but were beat in the decisive Game 5 during what turned out to be the AAGPBL final season.
Some baseball researches considers Kline one of the five best pitchers in All-American Girls Professional Baseball League history, along with Jean Faut, Helen Nicol, Dottie Wiltse and Connie Wisniewski.
Bill Allington All-Stars
Once the league folded, Kline joined several other players selected by former Daisies manager Bill Allington to play for the national touring team known as the All-Americans. The squad played 100 games from 1955 to 1957, each booked in a different town, against male teams, while traveling over 10,000 miles in the manager's station wagon and a Ford Country Sedan. Besides Kline, the Allington All-Stars included players as Joan Berger, Gloria Cordes, Jeanie Descombes, Gertrude Dunn, Betty Foss, Mary Froning, Jean Geissinger, Katie Horstman, Dolores Lee, Magdalen Redman, Ruth Richard, Dorothy Schroeder, Jean Smith, Dolly Vanderlip and Joanne Weaver, among others.
In 1973 Kline married Robert Randall, whom she met while working for Jonesville Automotive Products in North Adams. Retired, but very active, she played in the AAGPBL reunion game in 1984, where she belted a home run. She currently lives on the family farm in Hillsdale, only 10 miles from her birthplace.
When the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was unable to continue in 1955, its history and its significance were soon forgotten. Many people in the 1950s thought that women were not supposed to play baseball, so most female athletes competed on other fields of endeavor. Finally, in 1980, former pitcher June Peppas launched a newsletter project to get in touch with friends, teammates and opponents, that resulted in the league's first-ever reunion in Chicago in 1982. Starting from that reunion, a Players Association was formed five years later and many former players of the defunct league continued to enjoy reunions.
Hall of Fame honors
The AAGPBL Players Association movement helped to bring the league story to the public eye. The association was largely responsible for the opening of a permanent display at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York since November 5, 1988 that honors those who were part of this unique experience.
A League of Their Own
- A League of Their Own is a 1992 film about the first season of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. While the film does not use real names, filmmaker Penny Marshall seemed to be aiming for realism, as her film includes fake newsreel footage and pseudo-documentary present day scenes at the beginning and end of the fictitious story. A League of Their Own itself was inspired by the 1987 documentary of the same title, written and produced by Kelly Candaele, one of the five sons of Helen Callaghan, who in 1945 won the AAGPBL batting championship with a .299 average. The AAGPBL players were relatively unknown until the Marshall's film was exhibited for the first time. After that, the AAGPBL Players Association reunions became formal annual events in 1998.
- All-American Girls Professional Baseball League website
- 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
- 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
- When Women Played Hardball – Susan Johnson. Publisher: Seal Press, 1994. Format: Paperback, 320pp. Language: Language: English. ISBN 1-878067-43-5
- All-American Girls Professional Baseball League History
- AAGPBL Cards
- The Patriotic Pinch Hitter: Bill Allington's All-American Team
- Women in Baseball: The Forgotten History – Gai Ingham Berlage, Charley Gerard. Publisher: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1994. Format: Hardcover, 224pp. Language: English. ISBN 978-0-275-94735-4
- Biographical Dictionary of American Sports – David L. Porter. Publisher: Greenwood Press, 2000. Format: Hardcover, 2064pp. Language: English. ISBN 978-0-313-29884-4