Growing up I used to visit my aunt and grandmother Youngen in Ragersville, Ohio. When
visiting I often played pitch and catch with my father, Elden “Ty” Youngen in front of my
grandmother’s house which was located on the main road through this small Ohio town.
Alta Weiss (pronounced Wise as in wise old owl!), born and raised in Ragersville, had returned
to Ragersville to retire and she was living in the house, the Neff house as it was called, in which
I was born. Actually it was Alta’s father that delivered me in that house in 1933! At that time
Doctor Weiss, a highly regarded doctor in Tuscarawas County, had his office directly across the
road from our house.
From her front porch, Alta, Ragersville’s famous woman baseball player of the early 1900’s,
could see me throwing a baseball, not softball, with my father in front of my grandmother’s
house. One summer day in 1946 or 1947, I don’t remember the exact date, I was 14 or 15
years old and Alta would have been in her late 50’s, Alta invited me to her Ragersville home for
lemonade and cookies. I don’t remember how I received the invitation but I accepted! On the
appropriate date I walked the half a block to her home.
I was invited in and served lemonade and cookies ( I am certain that she did not bake those
cookies!) as I sat on the edge of her old sofa. The conversation was primarily about me and
how I got started playing baseball. I do not remember the exact conversation. I know that she
did not talk much about her playing days although I knew that my two oldest uncles, Herman
and Edwin Youngen, played with her on the local Ragersville town team before she became
famous. My biggest regret is that I did not know enough about her baseball feats to ask her the
many questions that, in retrospect, would have added to her mystique. At my age I was just
interested in playing ball!
At the end of our time together she asked me if I would like a baseball that she had that was
signed by Babe Ruth. She never mentioned how she got this ball but I definitely knew about
Babe Ruth and I said YES to the offer. Then she asked me if I would like her to sign the ball and
I said yes. She signed with an ink pen in bold black; this signature should last forever! When I
left her home I had a baseball signed by Babe Ruth and Alta Weiss!
When I got back to my grandmother’s house, my father told me to wrap it up and put it in a
drawer out of the light for safe keeping. That is exactly what I did for 60 years! I admit that on
occasion I unwrapped and admired that baseball. On October 15, 2009, It was my pleasure to
present THE signed baseball to the Ragersville Historical Society.
Since that time the ball was appraised and it was found that the Babe Ruth signature was not
authentic. More importantly there is no question about the authenticity of the bold Alta Weiss
Lois J. Youngen, AAGPBL Player 1951 - 1954
November 4, 2020
Webnote: For a brief introduction to Alta Weiss use this link.