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'League of Their Own' veterans reflect on baseball

6:21 PM, Feb 5, 2013   |    comments
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  • Rosemary Stevenson (left) and Doris Cook.
  • Doris Cook of the Kalamazoo Lassies.
  • Rosemary Stevenson of the Grand Rapids Chicks.
    

HOLLAND, Mich. (WZZM) - Two West Michigan veterans of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) say it truly was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Doris Cook and Rosemary Stevenson of Muskegon played for the women's pro league making $75 per week in the late 1940s and early 1950s. While men were away at war, women filled the bill for baseball and are immortalized in the Tom Hanks-Geena Davis film, "A League of Their Own." The two women spoke to an audience Tuesday at Hope College in observance of Wednesday's National Girls and and Women in Sports Day.

"I think (girls today) have it made," says Cook, who played for Kalamazoo, Muskegon, Springfield and South Bend. "We had nothing back when I was in high school. I played with older women because I was so young then. I love the fact that the schools are doing this for women's sports."

Stevenson came from the Upper Peninsula to play for the Grand Rapids Chicks in 1954 for one season before the league folded. "I just loved playing sports. I loved playing them all. When I found out there was women's professional baseball I decided to give it a try. Here's this Youper farm girl who got a chance to play professional baseball. I never thought I'd get a chance in a hundred years."

On Saturday, Lavonne "Pepper" Paire-Davis, the real life player which Geena Davis' character was based on, passed away in California. Cook says Paire-Davis' impact on the league was exaggerated for dramatic effect.

Cook says about 100 former players survive and reunions are held annually.

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