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Mary Frances Gagnon

Mary Frances Gagnon

Mary Frances Gagnon

Mary Frances Gagnon

Mary Frances Gagnon

Profile Information

  • Maiden Name: (Moore)
  • Nickname:
  • Hometown: Lemon Grove, CA (US)
  • Throwing Hand: Right
  • Batting Hand: Right
  • Born: March 6, 1922
  • Died: July 12, 1962

Mary Frances GagnonHistory

Team Position Uniform #
1948 Rockford Peaches Pitcher

Mary was born in Lemon Grove, California, youngest of a large family. They lived on a horse farm. Two of her older brothers taught her how to play baseball.   From childhood, she rode horses, competed in rodeos, races, and barrell races.  She proudly rode in parades from her teens into her 30's.  Her high school yearbook described her as: the "outdoor type --- enjoys riding horses."  She participated in softball, speedball, basketball, and volleyball while in school.  She married Geoarge Gagnon on Nov. 20, 1943, and they were divorced Sept. 4, 1947.

Mary dryland farmed in Romoland and Hemet California for 17 years, taking a break in 1948 to pitch for the Rockford Peaches, who were Champions that year.  She developed a sore arm, so had to quit the team.

In the early 1950s, she pitched a few "no hitters" while playing on different softball teams which travelled up the West Coast from San Diego to Portland Oregon.  In 1953, she was on the San Diego Slick Chicks Team.   In 1956 she played in the World Softball Championship Games.

Contributed by: Mary's niece Karin Durfey  March 24, 2017                                        

Girl With 'Golden Arm' Pitched Professionally 
By Helen Ofield

Mary Frances Moore was a small, plump child, but she could throw a baseball like few other kids.

When she graduated from eighth grade at Lemon Grove [CA] Grammar School in 1936, her peers, writing in the school annual, offered this summation:

“MARY MOORE. Baseball captain par excellence and all other athletics. Hobby: sports. Ambition: managing a horse ranch. Mary Moore wills to a lucky girl her pitching ability.”

Moore's “golden arm,” as the yearbook called it, eventually took her to the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, where she played for the Rockford Peaches, the team made famous by the 1992 movie “A League of Their Own.”

No longer plump, but tall and rangy, she pitched as a reliever in 1948. The Peaches that year were the playoff champions.

The Rockford (Ill.) Peaches played from 1943 to 1954 against such teams as the Racine Belles, Milwaukee Chicks, Springfield Sallies, Minneapolis Millerettes and Fort Wayne Daisies.

Moore's athletic talent became apparent early. The yearbook writers at Lemon Grove Grammar School forecast that in 20 years she would journey to Finland with her future U.S. ambassador husband to “astound the natives by riding reindeer bareback.”

The reindeer joke was a tribute to Moore's equestrian ability, born of a childhood spent riding mules and horses on her parents' farm, a big spread on a hill in Lemon Grove's El Prado neighborhood.

Moore, a Grossmont High graduate, competed in horse shows throughout California and the Southwest, frequently taking first place. During the 1940s and '50s, she competed in the famous horse shows sponsored by St. John of the Cross Catholic Church in Lemon Grove.

Her dad, Tom Moore, hailed from County Kerry, Ireland, and his wife, Annie Kavanaugh, from an Irish family in Providence, R.I.

Tom Moore worked his way through the silver mines of Colorado and the Southwest, ultimately landing in Lemon Grove in 1912 to become a poultryman and farmer. He and his wife raised six children, among them Thomas Jr. and Arthur, decorated World War II heroes. Mary was the youngest.

She later married George Gagnon, and they ran a pinto pony ranch at Romoland in Riverside County. During that period, she tried out for the Rockford Peaches in Pasadena.

After playing for the Peaches, she returned to the ranch, but kidney disease cut her life short. She died July 12, 1962, at age 40.




Author: Helen Ofield

Contributed By: Jennifer Boyd

Copyright: San Diego Union Tribune, June 19, 2008.

Mass was held at 8:10 on Monday morning of this week [July 15-21, 1962] at St. John of the Cross Church for Mary F. Moore, 40, a native Grovan and daughter of a pioneer Lemon Grove family.  Miss Moore, once famed locally as a girl and woman athlete, died [Thursday] July 12, 1962  in a San Diego hospital after a lingering illness.

Rosary was said at 7:45 p.m. on Sunday for Miss Moore.

Survivors included her mother, two sisters, and two brothers.  

Mary F. Moore had lived for the past few years at 2320 El Prado St., Lemon Grove—in the house where she grew up—with her mother and a sister.  The father built this home when he brought the family here in 1910.

Operating a ranch in Riverside County for 17 years made up the major part of Miss Moore’s career, but she played in national and world league women’s professional baseball in 1948.  She pitched for the Rockford Peaches, a team headquartered in Rockford, Ill., which was one of the top women’s teams of that time.

As a child, Miss Moore attracted attention for being an outstanding softball player.  Horsemanship was her other main interest and she rode in many horse shows locally.

Thomas J. Moore, the father came to Lemon Grove after being a miner in Arizona.  He worked for 25 years with what was then the Lemon Grove-La Mesa-Spring Valley, and what is now the Helix Irrigation District.

Conrad’s Lemon Grove Mortuary handled funeral arrangements.  Interment was in Holy Cross Cemetery.

Author: San Diego Union

Contributed By: Helen Nordquist

Copyright: San Diego Union @7/17/1962

LeagueBatting Record

1948 8 18 - 4 - - - - - - - .222

LeaguePitching Record

1948 8 45 23 20 4.00 40 5 4 2 2 3 .400

Mary Frances GagnonPhoto & Video Album

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