Youngsters watching the dominant U.S. Olympic softball team may have been unaware that back in the day before Title 9, women's baseball was not only an afterthought in athletic life but openly ridiculed. Even the legendary Rosie Gacioch's mother told her "playin' ball wasn't for girls." But the woman whose exploits inspired the 1992 film "A League of Their Own" received encouragement from a Roman Catholic nun and patiently honed her skills.
"I learned how to pitch out in the hills, between two trees. My girlfriend would go behind the trees, and I'd throw the ball with a twist and it would go through and curve around a tree. We got an old mattress and cut a hole in it. My friend would hold it up and I'd practice pitching through the hole," said Rosie in an interview.
Rosie Gacioch, who died in Michigan this week at age 89, played with the Chicago-based All Star Ranger Girls and later in the All-American Girls Baseball League, created by Chicago Cubs' owner Philip K. Wrigley. Single her entire life, she once said, "When I was younger this guy wanted to marry me. I liked him very much. (But he told me) when we get married, you gotta quit baseball...You gotta quit bowling...I said, Go to hell."
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