Mary Pratt, the last known living member of the original Rockford Peaches, died this week at the age of 101 in her home town of Bridgeport, Connecticut, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League said Friday.
The Peaches were the most successful team in the league, which launched in 1943. Their early success was featured in the 1992 movie “A League of Their Own” with Tom Hanks and Geena Davis. Pratt was not featured specifically in the film adaptation, but many of the supporting characters were based on a combination of players.
We are terribly sad to report that former Rockford Peaches and Kenosha Comets pitcher, Mary Pratt passed away on May 6th. She was 101 years old. Mary was the last known original Peaches player that played on the 1943 team. Her stories, her energy will be missed for a long time. pic.twitter.com/dKFlbbBzf8
— AAGPBL Official (@AAGPBL) May 8, 2020
“The good things I used to think about sports . . . memories, you live on with them, because baseball is baseball, whether it’s today, or tomorrow or 50 years ago,” she said at her 100th birthday celebration in November 2018, via the Patriot Ledger.
Pratt’s suitcase is part of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s “Diamond Dreams’ exhibit focused on the league. It has American flag decals, a nod to the patriotism at the time during World War II, and miniature pennants from the teams she played against — though none of Rockford and Kenosha.
After college she worked as a teacher at the Quincy school district in Massachusetts, where she asked for early leaves to begin spring training in the AAGPBL. But she eventually left when the district did not grant her one. Pratt returned to the school after ending her baseball career in 1947, serving as a physical education and special education teacher as well as coach for more than 40 years. She led 10 championship softball teams.
She was also an assistant professor and coach at Salem State College in the 1960s. Pratt contributed to the welfare of female athletes in the state after the passing of Title IX in 1972. She also committed to working with community organizations to promote youth recreation and initiated an AAGPBL program to keep track of former players and track their speaking engagements. Her memoir, “Preserving Our Legacy: A Peach of a Game”, was published in 2013.
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