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Courtney, Patricia (10/8/1931 - 7/12/2003)
By Pat Lally, Boston Globe Correspondent
Patricia Courtney, who played third base for one season in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League before becoming an agent for the Internal Revenue Service, died in her Everett home Saturday of stomach cancer. She was 71.
Ms. Courtney signed with the Grand Rapids Chicks after an open tryout at the Everett recreation center in 1950. She was released five weeks later, but soon signed with the Chicago Colleens and played the rest of the season with the team.
She said it was the best summer of her life. “Being only 18, I loved all the travel involved in playing for the Colleens,” she said in an August 1991 interview with the Globe. “I had a great time.”
Maddy English, who was Ms. Courtney’s Catholic Youth Organization basketball coach, described her as “a terrific athlete.”
Her sister, Betty, of Everett, said she “was like a vacuum cleaner in the field.”
Born in Brooklyn, Ms. Courtney moved to Everett with her family when she was 11. She graduated from Everett High School in 1949. After her year in professional baseball, she enrolled in night classes at Bentley College and graduated with a degree in accounting in 1958. She then worked for 30 years as an IRS agent, retiring in 1988.
That year, Ms. Courtney and the other veterans of the Girls League were honored at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.
Ms Courtney was a source of information for director Penny Marshall’s popular 1992 movie, “A League of Their Own,” a fictionalized tale about two sisters playing in the Girls League. While on the set, she would occasionally help one of the movie’s stars, Madonna, warm up.
“She would say, ‘Will you go out and play catch with me, just to practice?’ ” Ms Courtney told The Christian Science Monitor in 1992. When asked if Madonna would have been able to play in the Girls League, Ms. Courtney was tactful. “She is a very hard-working gal, I’ll give her credit for that,” she said. “I understand she did improve later.”
Her sister said the comment was typical of Ms. Courtney’s “straight-arrow” way of seeing the world. “There was no gray,” she said. “There was black, and there was white.”
Ms. Courtney was also one of several former players who were extras in the movie’s Hall of Fame recognition ceremony. “I’m the one in the royal blue suit who walks past the camera twice,” Ms. Courtney said in an interview for an August 1993 article in the Globe.
Contributed by: Helen Nordquist
Submitted on: 01/04/2015
Copyright: Boston Globe, 7/13/2003