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Lavonne Davis

Lavonne Davis

Lavonne Davis

Lavonne Davis

Lavonne Davis

Profile Information

  • Maiden Name: Paire
  • Nickname: Pepper
  • Hometown: Los Angeles, CA (US)
  • Throwing Hand: Right
  • Batting Hand: Right
  • Born: May 29, 1924
  • Died: February 2, 2013

Lavonne DavisHistory

Pepper was a fine catcher in the AAGPBL and she had a very high fielding average .977. She was a steady influence behind the plate and handled the pitchers very well and was always able to get the best out of them. Pepper was the co-writer of the Leagues song with Nalda Bird Phillips that the players sing at each reunion.

Ms. Davis is pictured here during a visit to Yankee Stadium in 2010, 

Davis, who was known as Pepper Paire in her playing days, entered the league in 1944, a year after it was formed by Philip W. Wrigley, the chewing-gum magnate and owner of the Chicago Cubs. Wrigley had worried that World War II would deplete professional baseball of male players and force it to fold. That never happened, but his women’s pro league became popular anyway, and Davis became one of its most enduring players.  

She was 19, working as a welder in a shipyard and going to college part time, when her hobby playing softball in local leagues bore unexpected fruit: she and a friend, Faye Dancer, were recruited to join the Minneapolis Millerettes of the new league. Davis would eventually play for four teams over 10 seasons; the others were the Fort Wayne  Daisies, the Racine Belles and the Grand Rapids Chicks. 

Playing catcher as well as shortstop and third base, she won pennants with all but the Millerettes, and her 400 career runs batted in tie her for fourth in league history. In 1950, she drove in 70 runs in 110 games for the Chicks.“Pepper was a fine catcher in the A.A.G.P.B.L., and she had a very high fielding average, .977,” said a playing summary on a Web site run by the league’s players association. “She was a steadying influence behind the plate and handled the pitchers very well and was always able to get the best out of them.”Players wore short skirts, took classes in etiquette and charm, were often accompanied by chaperons. (Davis, who boasted of having boyfriends in various cities, had a reputation for eluding hers.) They played a grueling schedule of up to 120 games a season.  

Davis, who grew up playing baseball with her older brother and later played on local softball teams, was one of relatively few players in the league from beyond the Midwest, but she fully embraced it. In 1944, she co-wrote a league anthem that players still sing at reunions,

         “Victory Song”

Our chaperones are not too soft

They’re not too tough

Our managers are on the ball

We’ve got a president who really knows his stuff

We’re all for one, we’re one for all

We’re All-Americans!

The song was featured in “A League of Their Own,” which was released in 1992.  

Davis served as a consultant to the director, Penny Marshall, and was one of several players who helped inspire the fictional Dottie Hinson, a beautiful, power-hitting crowd favorite played by Geena Davis.  

Davis, the player, said that another player, Dorothy Kamenshek, who died in 2010, was the league’s best player and also an inspiration for Hinson.Lavonne Paire was born on May 29, 1924, in Los Angeles. In the early 1940s, she and Dancer played amateur softball on a girls team in the Los Angeles area called the Dr. Peppers, which was named for and sponsored by the soft drink company.  

A brief biography on Davis’s Web site noted that the league seemed largely forgotten within a few decades after it ceased operations in 1954. Things began changing when players held a reunion in 1982. A flurry of news media attention was followed by recognition from the Baseball Hall of Fame and a 1988 documentary, which led to Marshall’s film.  

By the mid-1990s, Davis and other players were signing autographs at memorabilia shows and even serving as celebrity guests on theme cruises alongside baseball greats like Bob Feller and Billy Williams. In 2009, Davis published a memoir, “Dirt in the Skirt.”

Author: William Yardley

Contributed By: Debbie Mak

Copyright: New York Times


LeagueBatting Record

Year G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO AVG
1944 60 220 28 53 8 2 0 20 5 20 8 .241
1945 111 392 29 77 6 0 0 39 7 37 6 .196
1946 101 383 31 91 10 4 0 59 13 33 15 .238
1947 112 430 35 97 14 0 0 50 18 29 17 .226
1948 114 377 24 70 8 4 0 27 2 34 36 .186
1949 110 371 21 76 2 3 0 37 12 46 11 .205
1950 110 370 35 92 16 0 1 70 15 35 10 .249
1951 81 261 21 69 6 2 1 56 5 38 5 .264
1952 67 200 13 46 3 0 0 18 0 17 2 .230
1953 60 160 14 42 6 0 0 24 2 19 7 .263
CAREER 400

Lavonne DavisPhoto & Video Album

Ms. Davis is pictured here during a visit to Yankee Stadium in 2010.

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