The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


April 23, 2009

A Don McCormack column: A league of her own

Conneaut native Jean Lovell hit more homers than any catcher in the history of the AAGPBL

Dorothy Strack remembers it as clearly as if it happened the other day.

“We were playing a game of catch at recess out on the playground,” the Conneaut resident said. “And she threw one ball so hard, it ripped off the top of the webbing of my glove and hit me right in the nose.

“It bled like crazy! In fact, I bled all the way across the playground, up the steps to the school and for a long time after that.”

Of course, the incident didn’t happen the other day.

It happened in 1937 at Amboy Elementary School, located on South Amboy Road near Route 20 in Conneaut.

And don’t sell Dorothy, now 81, short, either. It wasn’t like she was playing catch with your average fourth-grader at Amboy Elementary School.

She was playing with Jean Lovell, who would go on to fame as a player in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, the loop the classic 1992 movie “A League of their Own” made another generation aware.

“She aimed the ball at me, apparently, with all her power — which was considerable — even at that young age,” Dorothy said. “I just wasn’t quick enough on the receiving end and it really did connect right with my nose!”

Along with the trail of blood poor Dorothy left as she staggered her way back inside the school’s front doorway, Lovell’s missile left some other tracks.

“It went all the way down the hallway and to the restroom!” Dorothy said. “It seemed my whole face was black and blue and sore for weeks after that.

“Jean felt so bad, but it wasn’t her fault. She was just such a tremendous athlete, even at that age. I just wasn’t good enough to catch it.”

Home grown

Lovell was born in Conneaut on Nov. 21, 1926. As Dorothy’s playground tale points out, she attended Amboy Elementary School.

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