#Shortstops: Connie and the Comets

Part of the SHORT STOPS series
Written by: Matthew Carter

On June 4, 1947, the Kenosha Comets and Racine Belles of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League faced off at Kenosha’s Lake Front Stadium. The defending league champion Belles came into the game in first place with a 7-4 record, while the Comets were in last place with a mark of 2-9.

The big storyline, however, was the special visitors who were in attendance that night.

Philadelphia Athletics manager Connie Mack and coach Al Simmons were in the stands as guests of Comets manager Ralph Shinners.

Before the game, Mack, Simmons, Shinners and AAGPBL president Max Carey were interviewed by John D. Davies in front of a microphone set up at home plate. During the interview, Mack talked in glowing terms about A’s players Buddy Rosar and Ferris Fain and picked the New York Yankees to win the American League pennant based on their strong pitching.

Even though the VIPs’ appearance was advertised in the local paper, only 960 fans came out to watch the game in which the Comets lost to the Belles 5-1. Racine’s ace pitcher Anna Mae Hutchison was “poison” to Kenosha batters, who hit only three singles against her.

The Kenosha Evening News reported that, after observing the game, both Mack and Simmons were “deeply impressed” with women’s baseball and “lauded the general overall type of performance” of it.

Mack was particularly dazzled by the play of Comets shortstop Dottie Schroeder. After Schroeder made a great defensive play in the 9th inning, he jokingly told Shinners and Comets president Edward J. Reutz that he would trade A’s shortstop Eddie Joost for her.

A picture from that night of the Kenosha Comets with Connie Mack and Al Simmons is preserved at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Dean O. Cochran Jr. Photograph Archives. Mack and Simmons are seated in the center of the photo with Comets center fielder Marge Villa in between the two. Schroeder is seated second from the left and Shinners is behind the team at the left rear.

Audrey Wagner, far right, was the best player on the 1947 Comets. That season, she led the AAGPBL in hits (119), doubles (25), home runs (7), RBI (53) and total bases (183) and was the only Comets player named to the AAGPBL All-Star team. She would go on to be named AAGPBL Player of the Year in 1948.

The Kenosha Comets would finish the 1947 season in last place with a 43-69 record while the Racine Belles would lose to the Grand Rapids Chicks in the league championship.

Matthew Carter was a curatorial intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development

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Part of the SHORT STOPS series