Shirley Burkovich

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Shirley Burkovich
All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
Infield/outfield utility and pitcher
Born: (1933-02-04) February 4, 1933 (age 85)
Swissvale, Pennsylvania
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Teams
Career highlights and awards
  • Women in Baseball – AAGPBL Permanent Display
    at Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum (1988)

Shirley Burkovich [״Hustle״] (born February 4, 1933) is a former infielder, outfielder and pitcher who played from 1949 through 1951 in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Listed at 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m), 150 lb., she batted and threw right-handed.[1][2]

Born in Swissvale, Shirley Burkovich was one of forty players from Pennsylvania who made the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League clubs; these included stars as Jaynne Bittner, Ann Cindric, Jean Faut, Jean Geissinger, Jean Marlowe, Marguerite Pearson, Ruth Richard, Sarah Jane Sands, Fern Shollenberger and Jane Stoll, among others. She was nicknamed ״Hustle״ for her boundless intensity on the field, as she filled in at every position except catcher during her three seasons in the league.[3]

Growing up in the Pittsburgh area, Burkovich started playing sandlot ball with the boys of her neighborhood when she was a little girl, but never played organized softball. Though she attended three different high schools, Burkovich played basketball and field hockey in all of them, and also played in the Westinghouse Girls Basketball League.[4]

At age 16, she was signed a contract by the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League after attending a tryout in Pittsburgh. Because she was still in high school, she needed permission from her parents and the school district to leave school in March for spring training.[5]

Burkovich played for the Chicago Colleens, Springfield Sallies and Rockford Peaches from 1949 to 1951, collecting a .229 batting average and a .325 on-base percentage in 37 games. She also made three relief appearances and did not have a decision.[1][6]

After baseball, Burkovich went to work for Pacific Bell Telephone for 30 years and retired in 1983. She also has been an active collaborator in different projects of the AAGPBL Players Association since its foundation in 1982. The association helped to bring the league story to the public eye and was largely responsible for the opening of Women in Baseball, a permanent display based at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, which was unveiled in 1988 to honor the entire All-American Girls Professional Baseball League rather than any individual personality.[6]

Burkovich showed off her acting skills as well by playing the role of Alice ″Skeeter″ Gaspers in the 1992 film A League of Their Own, which was a fictionalized account of activities in the AAGPBL. This film, directed by Penny Marshall, brought many of the real AAGPBL former players began to earn a rebirth of celebrity.[7]

Shirley Burkovich currently lives in Cathedral City, California, while still working as a member of the AAGPBL Players Association Board of Directors.[6]

Batting statistics[edit]

GP AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG
37 105 18 24 0 2 0 16 4 12 14 .229 .325 .267

Note: Statistics were incomplete for the touring teams in 1949 and 1950.[1]

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Official Website – Shirley Burkovich profile". 
  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. ^ All-American Girls Professional Baseball League players who were born in Pennsylvania
  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. ^ "The Diamond Angle – Interview with Shirley Burkovich". 
  6. ^ a b c The Women of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
  7. ^ IMDb.com – Shirley Burkovich entry