WALTON, Ky. - Greater Cincinnati has produced more than its share of pro baseball greats - legends like Pete Rose and Ken Griffey Jr., Hall of Famers like Barry Larkin and Jim Bunning, and local icons like Joe Nuxhall. But Pat Scott is in a league of her own.
During World War II, Scott was a star pitcher in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League - the subject of the 1992 movie, “A League of Their Own,” starring Geena Davis, Madonna and Tom “There’s no crying in baseball” Hanks.
Scott, of Walton, Ky., is something of a celebrity herself. She is part of the Women in Baseball (Diamond Dreams) exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. In 2002, the baseball field at Walton Community Park was named Pat Scott Field.
When 9 On Your Side’s John Popovich recently visited her home, Scott showed him her trophy room filled with memorabilia from her three seasons in the AAGPBL. The walls were covered with photos of herself and other players. Hanging up were replicas of her short-skirted uniforms from the Fort Wayne Daisies.
Scott’s life is the stuff movies are made of.
Now 83, Scott was born in Covington and grew up in Burlington, Ky. The family farm had its own baseball field.
“Just like in ‘Field of Dreams,’ except instead of corn, our field was surrounded by tobacco,” Scott said in a previous interview.
She told Popovich she dreamed of playing professional baseball from the time she was 8 years old, throwing a baseball against the barn. A semi-pro team practiced at her farm and they let her practice with them. “They taught me everything I know about baseball,’’ she said.
She never expected to play professionally, but WWII intervened. When young men were called into service, Chicago Cubs owner Phillip Wrigley got the idea to start a women’s league. It began in 1943 in four small Midwestern towns and expanded to 10 in 1950. The league folded in 1954.
In 1948, Scott’s father saw an ad in the paper for tryouts in Chicago. Scott was 19.
“When he told me I could go for a tryout – whew, you talk about a happy girl,” Scott said with a laugh. “I was the happiest (girl) in the country.”
Scott won a spot on the Springfield (Ill.) Sallies, but her mother became ill soon thereafter, so Scott went home and worked to help support her family.
Three years later, when the league desperately needed pitchers, the league president and Daisies manager called Scott and talked her into coming back.
Over three seasons as a starter, the right-handed Scott averaged 16 wins with a 48-26 record and a 2.46 ERA. In an interview for “Kentucky Life” on KET, she recalled two highlights from her rookie season in 1951.
“The night I pitched one in Rockford, Ill., I pitched 11 innings and we won it 3-0,” Scott said. “The other one probably was my good fortune because it was the first year the Daisies won a pennant and I was the pitcher.”
Scott pitched a one-run, pennant-winning game over the Rockford (Ill.) Peaches.
Scott said the movie “educated a lot of people about the league, but a lot of it was pure Hollywood. The manager, played by Tom Hanks, would never have been allowed to manage in the league if he was a drunk. There was no drinking, and it was enforced.”
When “A League of Their Own” was shot, Scott said she and other players were invited on the movie set.
“If they asked you questions, we tried to answer them, and we tried to help the kids who were [extras]. Geena Davis and Madonna were always so busy, and Tom Hanks was, too, but he always waved at you. He was so gracious,” Scott said in an interview for “Kentucky Life.”
Scott said her player salary was less than $400 per month. “But that was a lot of money back then,” she said. “I had money to spare and sent money back home.
“I looked at baseball as fulfilling a dream for one thing, but I also looked at it as an education because I was able to travel, I got to meet people that I’d never met, I saw places I probably would have never had a chance to visit ... Being a farm girl, I wouldn’t have had the money to go out and do those things.”
As a former ballplayer, she’s also a critic, Popovich reported.
“I think I could manage better some days than somebody does,” Scott told 9 On Your Side, alluding to Reds manager Dusty Baker. “When a guy’s on first base and three outs later, he’s still on first base, there is something wrong."
Although Scott’s baseball career ended quickly, other successes awaited her.
She went to college in Austria in a student exchange program, where she picked up an interest in woodcarving. When she returned, she graduated from the University of Kentucky.
“I guess my second profession was 32 years in medicine,” she told “Kentucky Life.” “I was a medical technologist and I did some cancer research, which was very scarce back then. Then I trained horses for 13 years and trained dogs for three years.”
That’s when she turned to her artistic side and took up woodcarving.
Her home is filled with carvings of animals, and she carves ornaments to give to children at hospitals and schools.
She also has a life-size carving of a hand gripping a baseball.