Gloucester writer working with women’s baseball pioneer

Quinton Sheppard - Posted on May 01, 2013 - 02:39 PM

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A baseball legend stopped off in Gloucester last Thursday to spend the day with county resident Doug Williams.

Dolly Niemiec Konwinski, who played for the Grand Rapids Chicks from 1949 to 1952, spent the day with the local author. She also played a part in the popular film, "A League of Their Own," and is having Williams write a book telling her life story.

Konwinski said her passion for the sport came from her dad placing a baseball bat in her hands at a very young age. "I don’t know if I was still in the hospital or not," she joked, when she first held a bat.

She remembers playing with her dad, who she said was a very good softball player, and she quickly earned the nickname, "Dolly Gopher." She said her dad would say, "Go for this ball. Go for that ball."

"He was my teacher, my instructor, my best friend," Konwinski added.

She soon started playing baseball with the boys in her Chicago neighborhood. "Their sisters had the most beautiful dolls," she said. "I had the most beautiful bats and balls."

Konwinski’s dad insisted she show her skills at a women’s baseball league tryout that was being held in her area, and said, "I came running home yelling, ‘I made it! I made it!’"

One of the funny things she remembers about the tryouts that day is that she couldn’t believe she was seeing all of the girls in the gym throwing and catching baseballs. "I thought I was the only one in Chicago who did that," Konwinski said. "I always played with the boys."

After making the minor leagues, she became involved in the barnstorming tour in 1949, allocating minor league players to the major league. She started with the tour in New Orleans, went to Florida and up the East Coast.