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Stevenson, Rosemary "Stevie"
By Rosemary Stevenson
I was eleven years old and playing softball for the "Soo" Rockettes of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. But I never dreamed of playing professional baseball until one day I saw an advertisement on the back of my softball rule book about the Fort Wayne Daisies professional baseball team.
So, at seventeen, and with my parents support, I traveled to Battle Creek, Michigan in May of 1954 with my softball coach, Jack La Pointe to tryout for the AAGPBL. Jack was a gem of a coach. He was a full blooded Chippewa Indian who had gone to school with the great Jim Thorpe.
106 girls attended the tryouts run by the Fort Wayne Daisies. There were scouts and managers present representing all the teams. They made us throw, catch, run, hit, and slide for three days. On Sunday they posted the names of six gals who had made the cut and I was one of them! My coach later told me that the long fly ball catch and one hop throw to home plate from center field got me the contract. I went back home to finish my last two weeks of school at Pickford High School. The principal at Pickford, Web Morrison was also the coach of the boys' baseball team. He encouraged me to practice baseball with the team everyday until I returned to my assignment in the outfield for the Grand Rapid Chicks.
Later in 1992, Web was the same gentleman who recommended me for recognition by the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame in Michigan. I graduated on a Thursday evening, packed my bags and left Friday morning for Grand Rapids with Mom and Coach La Pointe and played my first professional baseball game on Saturday. I was a very serious ballplayer who followed the rules. I wanted to play and had learned my lesson at tryouts when a gifted ball player from Milwaukee was caught smoking on the balcony at night and was sent home the next morning!
After playing ball that year the league folded. I went home that winter to different jobs and returned to Grand Rapids in the spring. I did factory work with the Keeler Brass Company and also found a softball team to play on. The gals told me they were hiring at Michigan Bell but I didn't want to be a telephone switch operator so I applied for inside work. My years of hard work on the family farm had prepared me well. I began as a switch room helper and soon became a switchman at a time when women didn't work in these jobs. I stayed with the phone company for 34 and 1/2 years. The last seventeen years I was in supervision as a chief switchman and finally switching supervisor. I retired in December 1989.
I went back to college and earned a degree in religion. I was hired at Michigan Catholic Central and taught religion for 1 and 1/2 years and then changed to a supervisory capacity over maintenance, custodial and transportation duties. I retired for a second time in 1999.
Today I'm active at St. Michael's church in Coopersville. As coordinator of the Right of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), I help new members to the church with their faith journey toward Baptism, Confirmation and Communion. I also assist with the ministry training and work with the different councils. My cousin was a Dominican Sister and was always denied requests to visit with her family so when I told my parents I wanted to be a nun they said no because they didn't want me to be away forever. I also thought I wanted to be a Marine but my parents told me no and then the opportunity to play ball came along.
Today I speak at colleges and schools promoting the history of the league with my friend Doris "Cookie" Cook who lives in Muskegon. People are so interested in talking about the league and often ask me why they didn't know about the league until the after the movie came out. I tell them it never seemed to come up and when it did they didn't believe it was baseball, they think it was softball! I tell them I love softball and I have played it for 52 years as a player and a coach. But I also played professional baseball for one year.
I encourage the girls and boys to follow their dreams whether it is an athlete, fishing boat captain or whatever their dream is! I believe most happenings in life are God directed and I look at all life as a gift.
Contributed by: Shelley McCann
Submitted on: 06/28/2011