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Gacioch, Rose (1915—)

Gacioch, Rose (1915—)

American pioneer in women's baseball who played for the Rockford Peaches. Born on August 31, 1915, in Wheeling, West Virginia; the youngest of four children; never married; no children.

Rose Gacioch, later known as "Rockford Rosie," was hooked on the game of baseball from the time her hand was big enough to hold a ball. She learned to pitch by throwing between two trees and trying to make the ball curve. Later, she pitched at a hole in a mattress. When she was 15, she was auditioned by Maud Nelson , who let her play for the All Star Ranger Girls as pitcher and outfielder. After the end of "bloomer-girl baseball" in 1934, Gacioch played "barnstorming softball" in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Gacioch was working in a Wheeling factory, during World War II, when she spotted a photo of a player for the All-American Girls Baseball League (AAGBL) in a New York newspaper. After a tryout, she was invited to attend the league's 1944 spring-training session in Peru, Illinois. Despite her advanced age, then 29, Rose made the cut. She started in right field and credits coach Bert Niehoff for her skills as an outfielder. By 1945, she had been traded to the Rockford Peaches. Playing right field that year, she set an all-time AAGBL record of 31 assists from the outfield and also belted nine triples and batted in 44 runs (both league records). In 1946, she had 30 assists, and in 1947 she tied her own record of 31. Gacioch was proudest of her assists record, she said, "because that's most important to the team."

During the 1948 season, manager Bill Allington returned Gacioch to the pitcher's mound, where she remained until the league folded in 1955. In 1951, her best year, she posted a 20-7 record and a 1.68 ERA, making her the league's only 20-game winner that season. On August 26, 1953, she pitched a seven-inning no-hitter against South Bend. During the last years of league play, Gacioch combined pitching with play at third or first base. She was voted to the All-Star team as a pitcher in 1952, as a utility infielder in 1953, and as a pitcher again in 1954.

Gacioch also took up bowling and in 1954, with her partner Fran Stennett , won the national doubles bowling championship. Retiring to Michigan, she continued to bowl in senior tournaments. In 1988, she attended the opening of the Women in Baseball display at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

sources:

Gregorich, Barbara. Women at Play: The Story of Women in Baseball. NY: Harcourt Brace, 1993.

related media:

A League of Their Own (127 min.) film, starring Geena Davis , Tom Hanks, Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell , directed by Penny Marshall , Columbia Pictures, 1992.

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