Dorothy "Dottie" Kamenshek: A Peach of a Ball Player
July 02, 2012
Dorothy "Dottie" Mary Kamenshek (1925-2010) was a renowned player from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). She was born on December 21, 1925 in Norwood, Ohio. Dottie’s parents, Nick and Johanna (Badenburg) Kamenshek, were born in Austria. Her father emigrated to the U.S. in 1913, and her mother followed in 1922. Nikolaus Kamanschek (spelled a little differently in the passenger records) arrived at Ellis Island on September 1, 1913 on the ship, the SS George Washington. He was 20 years old and worked as a barber. The two were married on June 25, 1924 in Hamilton County, Ohio.
The AAGPBL (1943-1954) was originally founded by chewing gum magnate Philip K. Wrigley in 1943 when many male athletes were serving overseas in World War II, leaving fans on the "home front" longing for their favorite pastime. In 1943, the AAGPBL consisted of just four teams, all based in the Midwest. "Dottie" or "Kammie" was a left-handed first baseman who played for the Rockford (Illinois) Peaches from 1943-1951 and again in 1953. Kamenshek told Marquette Magazine that at the games they were "getting only 500 people in the stands, and then it got up to 10,000. …At first they just came to see the skirts, and then we showed them we could play." In 1946, she was the league's top batter with an average of .316 and won the distinction again in 1947 with an average of .306. She struck out only 81 times in 3,736 at-bat appearances.
Kamenshek was an All-Star player all seven years that the league established such as a team and was chosen as one of the top 100 female athletes of the century by Sports Illustrated magazine in 1999. She was inducted into the National Women's Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010. In fact, the Geena Davis character "Dottie Hinson" in the 1992 film A League of Their Own was loosely based on the baseball career of Dottie Kamenshek.
After a back injury in 1951, she was forced to leave the league permanently in 1953. Dottie then pursued a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy, moving to California to work for the Los Angeles County Crippled Children’s Services. She retired permanently from the game with a career average of .292.
Dottie Kemenshek died on May 17, 2010 in Palm Desert, California. According to her obituary, Dorothy had no immediate surviving relatives. She never considered herself the best player in the league, but played to the best of her ability. She lived by her personal philosophy, which was "anything less than my best is failure."
Midwest Genealogy Center