Northern Kentucky’s Mound Ace, Pat Scott

The Greater Cincinnati region has been home to many outstanding baseball players – men and women – for decades. Any baseball fan’s visit to the area is likely to include stops at the Crosley Field marker, Great American Ball Park, and the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. Across the Ohio River, however, fans will find sites related to an all-star athlete whose story may not be as familiar. Patricia Ann “Pat” Scott was a pitcher in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) and called parts of Kenton and Boone Counties home for most of her life. Scott’s long and varied career resulted in many unique and noteworthy experiences and yet, her short time as a baseball player is commemorated at two locations, a field named in her honor and her final resting place, detailing the history of Northern Kentucky’s “Mound Ace” of girls’ baseball. 

For those unfamiliar with Pat Scott’s participation and contributions to baseball, she was born in 1929 and grew up near Burlington, KY on her family’s farm that featured a baseball diamond. Barnstorming and semi-pro teams would often use the field and young Pat took advantage, working out with the teams and developing into a fine athlete. Becoming a standout softball player in her teenage years first got her noticed by AAGPBL scouts and she was recruited to play for the Springfield (Illinois) Sallies in 1948. Just weeks into her first season, Scott left the league to care for her ill mother and would eventually decide to put any baseball career on hold in favor of attending college, traveling, and working.

Three years later, when the league was in short supply of solid overhand pitchers, Scott was again contacted by the league and offered a roster spot with the Fort Wayne (Indiana) Daisies. For the next three seasons, she would shine with the Daisies, winning an average of 16 games and leading Fort Wayne to the league playoffs each year. Scott’s life after baseball was just as remarkable, earning a degree in zoology, working as a medical technologist for years, training horses, becoming an accomplished artist in painting and wood carving, and competing in the Senior Games. 

Located 25-30 minutes south of Cincinnati proper, Walton Community Park is easily found just off of I-75. The park features ample green space, a playground, basketball and tennis courts, a soccer field, and next to the parking lot, the ball field. Approaching the parking lot from the center drive, visitors are met with a large sign that reads “Pat Scott Field” – letting them know they’re in the right place. The sign has changed over the years with the current version including a photo of Scott, taken from newsreel footage from the early 1950s when the Daisies spent spring training in Alexandria, Virginia. This particular newsreel is now in the public domain and can be viewed on the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) website or by searching any number of video hosting sites such as YouTube. 

The opposite side of the sign is an enlarged replica of Scott’s 1995 Larry Fritsch Cards baseball card and provides an educational bonus for visitors. Listed are both pitching and batting statistics for Scott’s three complete seasons in the league as well as a brief biographical text that includes her pitching the winning game against Rockford that gave Fort Wayne its first pennant in 1952. The field, named for Scott in 2002, is a small, standard field, but well maintained. Fencing surrounds an irregularly configured outfield and a dirt infield. The field is visible in a 2008 episode of Kentucky Life, a series produced by Kentucky Educational Television exploring culture and community throughout the Bluegrass State. During her segment, Scott spends the afternoon with host Dave Shuffett playing catch on the field that bears her name. 

Approximately seven miles southeast of Walton lies Saint Patrick’s Cemetery, the final resting place of Pat Scott. The small cemetery is accessible from Verona-Mudlick Road, halfway between the small community of Verona and I-71. The rural location lends itself to a quiet and peaceful atmosphere – surrounded by green fields in warmer months. The small cemetery is bisected by a driveway and Pat Scott’s marker can be found near the rear right (west) corner. Scott’s headstone is quickly recognizable. A black marble stone bearing her name at the top and “Beloved Sister and Aunt” at the bottom. The center focus of the marker consists of an elaborate and thoughtful engraving, highlighting Scott’s career as a professional baseball player. The view is that of sitting behind home plate, a baseball speeding toward you, and Scott further back in a pitcher’s follow through stance. The image is based on a photo of Scott in her Fort Wayne Daisies uniform. The AAGPBL logo is featured to the right of

 

Pat Scott’s grave site marker is a fitting memorial, but also offers visitors more about the significance of her baseball career. First, there is the educational aspect of the imagery featured on the marker. Imagine a person seeing the marker who may have no knowledge of women’s professional baseball in the 1950s. The potential for educational exploration exists when presented with the image of a skirted ballplayer pitching overhand as well as the unique AAGPBL logo. Second, after such an accomplished life full of athletic, scientific, and artistic achievements, it is her time as a professional baseball player that is forever featured on Scott’s marker.   

Memorial efforts and recognition for Pat Scott’s athletic career continue and her name can be found in the St. Henry District High School Hall of Fame, the Northern Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame, and listed with other All-Americans in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Pat Scott Field at Walton Community Park and Saint Patrick’s Cemetery both truly honor her individual athletic accomplishments and provide visitors with an opportunity to celebrate and learn more about her unique baseball career. 

Since We’ve No Place to Go

There is a famous quote attributed to Rogers Hornsby, “People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” As a Chicagoan, this sentiment seems a bit disingenuous considering Hornsby lived in Texas. Nonetheless, I really hate winter, too. Snow is a hassle and messy and annoying.

Looks like someone waited too long to stow the patio furniture

It was somewhat quaint this morning to wake up to a surprise snowstorm in the smartphone age, (especially in mid-November before someone had put the patio furniture away for the winter). Regardless, snow has at least one redeeming quality—it often creates magical, though fleeting, moments of serenity.

Billy Sunday – Forest Home Cemetery, Forest Park, IL

Cemeteries are typically tranquil places, but they take on a whole new level of quiet peacefulness under a fresh blanket of snow.

Pretzels Getzien – Concordia Cemetery, Forest Park, IL

This winter, don’t let a little snow prevent you from paying your respects at the graves of departed ball players.

Billy Pierce – Chapel Hill Gardens South Cemetery, Oak Lawn, IL

We would love to see hear your stories.

Dick Hyde – Grandview Memorial Gardens, Champaign, IL

Exploring Cleveland Baseball

Ichiro Suzuki famously slandered Cleveland when having to return there to make up a snowed-out game, “To tell the truth, I’m not excited to go to Cleveland, but we have to. If I ever saw myself saying I’m excited going to Cleveland, I’d punch myself in the face, because I’m lying.”

Frankly, I was ambivalent about the city having visited twice before my youngest put a school there at the top of his college list. In the intervening trips for campus tours and moving him in and out of dorms, there has been some opportunity to explore the city, dine at some amazing restaurants, and better formulate my thoughts on what Cleveland has to offer.

“To tell the truth, I’m not excited to go to Cleveland, but we have to. If I ever saw myself saying I’m excited going to Cleveland, I’d punch myself in the face, because I’m lying.”

Ichiro Suzuki

Moreover, there is an awful lot of baseball history in the Cleveland area to experience. Most of my landmark hunting to date has been in the early morning hours while everyone else sleeps in, often by way of a roundabout bagel run. Spanning several trips I have lingered at League Park, admired the statues of Elmer Flick and Rocky Colavito erected in town parks, paid my respects at the (purported) grave of Ed Delahanty, and attended games played by the Guardians and Lake Erie Crushers of the Frontier League.

Our most recent visit was for parent’s weekend, a delightful departure from past visits free of the “is this the right place for him?” quandary or the stress of packing and moving and making sure we brought enough ramen. We enjoyed an afternoon of hiking at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, had an amazing dinner downtown, and toured the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) after a late breakfast the following morning.

But of course I had some time to see a few baseball things. I headed first to the marker at Brookside Stadium and found the park quite easily with turn-by-turn directions from the SABR Baseball Map on my phone. It was a bit of a walk down a paved path the marker, but it was worth it.

Built in a natural amphitheater, a baseball diamond still occupies the former site of Brookside Stadium, which was razed in the 1980s. According to the marker, Brookside hosted the largest crowd ever recorded for an amateur baseball game, some 115,000 people in 1915. What a contrast to the park I found, serene and lovely on a crisp fall morning.

Part of exploring baseball history is finding new landmarks, so I was thrilled to look over and see another marker detailing the history of Brookside Stadium that we did not yet have on our list. I learned that the ballpark was built in 1909 in an effort to have the 1912 Olympics awarded to Cleveland.

I then headed over to Highland Park Cemetery to pay my respects at the grave of Luke Easter, a fascinating player who seemingly came out of nowhere and met a tragic end. [Do not miss the chapter on Easter in Outsider Baseball by Scott Simkus.]

And perhaps most surprisingly, I happened upon some baseball-related art at the CMA. The oversized Standing Mitt and Ball by Claes Oldenburg was a fitting companion piece to his Batcolumn erected in Chicago, just blocks from my office.

I also happened upon this centuries-old headgear displayed in the armor gallery, which most certainly qualifies as the earliest known baseball helmet, right?

There are several more trips to Cleveland in my future and I cannot wait to continue exploring the area. That I might get to see some baseball-related sites along the way is just a bonus.

Ichiro was wrong.

Sources:

Larry Stone, “Ichiro unlike any player we’ve seen or will see again,” Longview (Washington) Daily News, March 23, 2019: B7.

Welcome to Marengo or: How I Accidentally Visited My First Ballplayer’s Grave

Several years ago I was in Rockford, Illinois for work so (of course) I planned a slight detour on the way home to check out the Carl Lundgren historical marker in Marengo. After a bit of detective work (the SABR Baseball Map did not exist yet!) I was able to locate the marker, placed on the west side of North East Street.

Carl Lundgren was a terrific twirler for the Chicago Cubs from 1902-09. During the three consecutive seasons in which the Cubs appeared in the World Series (1906-08), Lundgren posted a regular season record of 41-22, with an ERA of 2.33 and 13 shutouts. Yet he was the odd man out and tossed not a single World Series pitch in any of those three years.

After a pair of ineffective outings for Chicago in 1909, Lundgren bounced around the minors for a few seasons before retiring from the game as a player. He went on to an amazing career as manager for Princeton, the University of Michigan and (alma mater) University of Illinois baseball teams, piloting his Wolverine and Illini squads to eight total Big Ten championships.

As I took a moment to read the inscription and snap a couple of photographs on an overcast morning, a man approached on a bicycle and let me know the sign had been purposely placed near the field where Lundgren played ball as a child. Wonderfully, a youth-sized diamond still existed at the site.

Lundgren died suddenly of a heart attack at his childhood home in 1934 and, as the gentleman on the bike advised, was buried right across the street from where his baseball career began. The man rode off after directing me to Lundgren’s grave, certainly unaware he had just sent me down a path that would lead to innumerable future ballplayer gravesite visits. Somewhat reluctantly at the time, however, I drove slowly through the cemetery and found Lundgren’s marker, lovingly adorned with Cubs mementos. 

Unsure what to do, I silently paid my respects and snapped a quick photo. As I drove away, I was struck by the weighty realization that although Lundgren threw his final pitch for the Cubs in 1909, he was not forgotten. Although baseball is not the most important thing in the world, these individuals were the most important people in the world to the people who loved them.

That’s comforting.