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All-the-Way Faye

September 4, 2010

Note the caption: "By league rule, skirts must be within six inches of the kneecap."Barring a late-inning comeback and a late-season realignment of the stars, today’s Cardinal game likely signals the death of our hopes of winning the NL Central this year—which is why, despite not being a fundamentally morbid person, I found myself thinking about obituaries this afternoon. And one of my all-time favorite obituaries is this one from eight years ago, upon the death of Faye Dancer, the All-American Girls’ Professional Baseball League star whose hair-on-fire style of play (and life) earned her the nickname “All-the-Way Faye” and a thinly fictionalized portrayal by Madonna in the movie A League of Their Own.

A quick sampling:

Dancer once recalled that when she was playing for Peoria in 1947, two gangsters would come by to watch. They’d arrive in a blue Packard with bulletproof glass.

“The kingpin liked me,” she said. “He offered to buy my folks a new car. He offered me a golden palomino and said he’d put me up in the sporting goods business. Once, he even asked me if I wanted anyone killed. I told him, ‘Maybe the umpire.'”

Better yet, though, go read Dancer’s own words about her career in baseball (and note that Pepper Paire, a.k.a. Lavonne Davis, will appear in her own post on this blog in the near future, as we were fortunate enough to meet her and absorb some of her still-sharp, still-hilarious wisdom earlier this summer):

I met Madonna when they were making the movie in Skokie, Illinois. I liked her. She was just like anyone else who was earning 60 million a year….

The guys would look at our short skirts, then look at our legs and wonder how we could slide without taking all the hide off ourselves. Well, we did take the hide off ourselves. Today the men can’t even play if they have a strawberry, and they’re making all those millions. God, whoever thought it would get like that?….

[Manager Bill] Wamby didn’t know too much about how to handle women. He was going to school to become a minister, and when we’d cuss, he’d look at us with daggers. I thought, “How in the hell did he ever get in with a bunch of girls?” Because he made an unassisted triple play [in the 1920 World Series], that was the reason. Other than that, he didn’t know too much about the game….

A lot of these little taverns had blowfish, big round fish that had thorns. We stole those. What did we need a blowfish for? It was just the idea of taking them, that was the main thing. One tavern owner told us, “I won’t charge you for your drinks tonight if you’ll give me my fish back.” I said, “I don’t know anything about your fish.” He said, “You were the only people in this room, and I’d like my blowfish back”….

Enjoy!—and try not to walk around singing “I’d like my blowfish back” to the tune of “I want my MTV” for the rest of the day, as I’m now destined to do. It’s not bad, I guess, as funeral dirges go.

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