In February baseball lost a legend who truly was in a league of her own. Sophie Kurys, former player for the All American Girls Professional Baseball League died at the age of 87. This is her story.
Sophie Kurys (Courtesy of wikipedia.org )
Sophie started her playing career during the inaugural season of the All America Girls league in 1943. She was often called “Tina Cobb” for her amazing base running skills and hard nosed style of play. Though she only hit .260 for her career, Sophie was known for her incredible eye at the plate. She averaged over 60 walks a season and finished her career with a .362 on base percentage.
However the real skills Sophie brought to the game took place after she reached base. Kurys was known as the greatest base stealer in the history of the league. During her career, Sophie averaged nearly 150 steals per season.
Sophie stole a career high 201 stolen bases during the 1946 season, a league record and over 100 more than Ty Cobb’s Major League record at the time. In fact if you think about it, Sophie Kurys average of 150 steals per season makes Rickey Henderson look like the Jason Giambi of stealing bases.
Sophie finished her career after the 1952 season with 1114 stolen bases. She is second all time in stolen bases for any professional league. (The only player ahead of her is Rickey Henderson.) Kurys, a four time all star and was widely considered the greatest woman baseball player in history.
Many fans forgot her story after the All American Girls league disbanded. She was all but forgotten until “A League of their Own” came out in 1994. Researchers for the movie rediscovered her career and made her one of the central characters for the movie.
As we mourn the passing of one of baseball’s greatest speed threats, we remember a time in history where women played baseball professionally at the highest level. I for one believe that there should be a baseball league for girls.
Anyone that loves the game and dedicates themselves to it like Sophie Kurys did should have a place on the baseball diamond!