Former Kalamazoo Lassies Baseball Player Celebrates 90th Birthday
There is a woman who was a part of one of the most important movements in sports history who recently celebrated her 90th birthday on May 16th. Ysora del Castillo Kinney has reached a new milestone in life, but in her youth she spent much time in Kalamazoo as a Lassie. Unfortunately she wasn't apart of the team during the league's final year when Kalamazoo won the Championship, but she has a storied history going back to her welcome into the All American Girls Pro Baseball League:
Through high school, she was head cheerleader. There were no opportunities for Mary Lou to play ball in high school or college. She did, however, play fast pitch softball as a teenager in Weirton (Ohio) and Steubenville. It was in the softball leagues she was scouted by the AAGPBL. She was invited to attend tryouts at Spring training in 1950 in McKeesport, PA, followed by a training camp in South Bend, IN. She was assigned to play for the Springfield Sallies touring team.
Ysora was a 2nd and 3rd baseman for the 1949 Colleens, the 1950-51 Muskegon/Kalamazoo Lassies and the 1951 Kenosha Comets. She never won a league title with any of the teams she was one, but the opportunity led to some big moments in her career. Another former player would also have been 90 on the same day. Mary Louise Kolanko had a huge career herself, including playing for the Springfield Sallies and the Peoria Redwings and having the chance to was play in Yankee Stadium and warming up with Hall of Fame shortstop, Phil Rizzuto.
The league, which is most notably recalled by the 90's classic film "A League of Their Own," dissolved in 1954, but their legacy and mark left on baseball will never be forgotten. I for one would love to see the league return and think it could turn a serious profit. Below is archival footage from the league: