Jean was considered the greatest second baseman in the league. Not only was a graceful fielder but she was also a heavy hitter, hitting close to .300. Jean hit a booming homerun her very first time up in the league. Not many runners were left on when Jean came to the plate. In the off-season Jean enjoyed roller skating and entertained the idea of skating in the roller derby. An All-Star, she continued to play with Allington's All-Stars after the league folded. This was a barn storming team that traveled the country playing games. Jean married and moved to Coldwater , Michigan where she had a family and continued to play fast pitch softball at a high level. On a personal note, this Associate Member, had the chance to play against her when she was about forty. She was a great fielding shortstop and a hitter to be feared. * In 1953 Jean led the League in triples and runs batted in. Plus,she tied Eleanor Callow of Rockford for home runs.
KALAMAZOO — Jean Louise Harding, 79, of Coldwater, passed away on June 8, 2014 at Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo while surrounded by family.
A funeral service will take place on Friday, June 13, 2014 at 11 a.m. at Dutcher Funeral Home in Coldwater, with Pastor Dallas McFarland of the Church of the Nazarene in Eaton Rapids officiating. Interment will follow at West Jamestown Cemetery in Fremont, Indiana. Visitation will be Thursday, June 12, 2014 from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at Dutcher Funeral Home.
Jean was born June 25, 1934 in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania to Richard and Lillian (Fagan) Geissinger. She was a true sportswoman. Jean played baseball in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League where she was known as “Dutch.” While playing baseball, she met her future husband, Russell “Blaine” Harding. They were married on April 25, 1959 at the United Methodist Church in Fremont, Indiana. Jean worked at the Branch Intermediate School District as a Paraprofessional, where she proudly worked with special needs children for many years.
Jean was a loving, family first wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She lived a very active life, playing sports into her 50’s with her children. After baseball ending, she took up fast-pitch softball and was known as “Dudley.” Eventually she conceded, and played slow-pitch. When not playing, Jean stayed involved by coaching or umpiring games. Jean has been inducted into the Michigan, Indiana, and Pennsylvania Halls of Fame and is an honored member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Mrs. Harding had many interests outside of sports. She enjoyed walking, playing golf, and reading. Jean also enjoyed the outdoors, spending time watching wildlife in her backyard and bird-watching. She was known as a loyal, proud, and generous person who could be feisty at times.
Jean is survived by her daughters Ann “Bugs” (Bob) Weeks of Homer, Karla “Pooh” Harding of Angola, and Jana “Toad” (Mark) Harding-Bishop of Hastings; her sister Contance Schofield of Maine; her brother Richard (Carol) Geissenger of Virginia; grand-children Brandon (Khanthaly) Gibson, Kole Gibson, Lyle Griffiths, Hunter “Superman” Weeks and Amanda Jean Cope; great-grandchildren Jordan Gibson and Jeremiah “the Bullfrog” Gibson; seven nieces and nephews; and her loyal black lab Lucas. She was preceded in death by her husband of 54 years, Russell “Blaine” Harding; her parents; and her sister Virginia Mae Allison.
Memorials may be directed to the Special Olympics. www.dutcherfh.com
Author: The Daily Reporter, Coldwater, MI
Contributed By: Carol Sheldon
Copyright: The Daily Reporter, Coldwater, MI