Ruth Hartman, A Reading Icon Passes Away

 

Ruth Hartman's Queen of Baseballtown Trophy
Ruth Hartman’s Queen of Baseballtown Trophy

Ruth Hartman, Queen of Baseballtown, a fixture at the Reading Fightins games and a personal hero of mine, passed away yesterday. She was 89.

You can read about the details of the accident HERE.

I had the pleasure of meeting Ruth years ago,  She was a lively lady walking through the sheep barn at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. Ross’ cousin also shows sheep so they were friends and he introduced us. I went home and started reading about her. She became a hero of mine.

As a young girl in the 70s, there really wasn’t a lot of female sports heroes, other than figure skaters. When I saw A League of Their Own, I was impressed. It wasn’t something I had heard of before and immediately those women became heroes. When I met Ruth, who was so unassuming, it made me admire what she had achieved.

Ruth Hartman sits at the Head of the table in Red.
Ruth Hartman sits at the Head of the table in Red.
Ruth Hartman's Autograph
Ruth Hartman’s Autograph

I met her again, albeit briefly when the then Reading Phillies, had a “All American Girls Professional Baseball League” night. They had quite a few of the former players there. I wrote an article about it back in 2011. You can read it HERE.

The summer of 2014 when Ross and I were in Reading, I really wanted to ask her if I could interview her for my blog. A friend of mine who works for the Fightins thought she might do it, but I was so shy to ask someone I admired so much for an interview, that I didn’t. It will be something I will always regret.

So as I sit here writing about one my personal heroes, I’m weeping. The baseball world seems a little dimmer with out one of it’s stars, the Queen of Baseballtown, Ruth Hartman. Rest in Peace, Ruth, rest in peace.

Ruth’s obituary can be read HERE and the Reading Fightins just added THIS VIDEO TRIBUTE.

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Halloween and a League of My Own

If you read my blog back in 2011, you would have read a story I did on meeting some of my heroes, the women of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. This all-female baseball league founded in 1943  by Phillip Wrigley of Wrigley Field/Cubs fame and Wrigley gum, took the place of Major League Baseball while most of the men were off fighting World War II. It went from 1943 until 1954. The league was featured in the movie, “A League of Their Own”.

I had the extreme privilege of meeting several of the women who played back then including Ruth Kramer Hartman, the Queen of Baseballtown aka the Reading Phillies. These women were always my heroes as they did exactly what boys could do. As a little girl, I thought that it was amazing that “girls” could play professional sports.

So this year when I chose a Halloween costume, I chose the one costume that would mean the most to me as a woman and a baseball fanatic…the uniform of the Rockford Peaches! Baseball Ross also donned the manager’s jersey…

IMG_3147 IMG_3178 IMG_3182

 

For me, it was akin to a boy wearing his hero’s cape and codpiece. I was so proud to wear this uniform…

Just in case you missed it, here is a portion of the article from 2011 and the link to the full article on BaseballBesty.com follows.

 

August 9, 2011

Sara Jane %22Salty%22 Sands of the Rockford Peaches

Sara Jane “Salty” Sands of the Rockford Peaches

A League of Their Own

Before the movie, “A League of Their Own” few people born after the 1950’s knew of the women of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. Phillip K. Wrigley, of Wrigley Gum and Chicago Cubs fame, wanted to keep baseball in the public eye during World War II, when most able-bodied men were away fighting.

These woman played professional sport at a time when most women would be expected to stay home, have babies and keep house; MAY BE have a job such as a secretary, but professional sports? It was unheard of. They likely didn’t know it at the time, but they started to break down the barriers, break the stereotypes that allow women to do what ever they want to do today.

 

ALOTO 2 ALOTO1

Along this line, other than the fact that I, myself appreciate this, what stood out to me, was the little girl in the teal shirt in the first photo above. She was so excited to meet these ladies, she asked to have her picture taken with each and every one of them. For any other little girl, you might have thought that there were six Justin Beibers up there signing autographs. She was nearly in tears to see these ladies who were clearly heroes to her.

When you look at the pictures of the ball below, you will see that these ladies just didn’t sign their name and pass the ball, they each noted what teams they played with and when. Ruth Kramer Hartman “The Queen of Baseballtown” made the comment to me, “These boys today, they just scribble on the ball. You can hardly read them.” It was obvious that they took this seriously and it meant something to them as well.

I think one of the more telling moments was when the gentleman behind me in line saw Sara Jane “Salty” Sands “Baseball Hall of Fame” t-shirt. He asked her, “Oh so you’re in the women’s hall of fame.” She gave him the eye and said, “No, THE Hall of Fame, the one in COOPERSTOWN, New York.” I was so proud of her.

ALOTO ball 4 ALOTO ball 1 ALOTO ball 2 ALOTO ball 3
As I mentioned earlier, Ruth Kramer Hartman is a Queen of Baseballtown. A King or Queen of Baseballtown is honored every year for their accomplishments and contributions to baseball/softball. Since 2003, only 8 people have been so honored…Ruth is the only woman, so far.

hartman queen

My first contact with Ruth was several years ago. Since retiring from teaching, Ruth has gone on to raise sheep for competition. Ross’ cousin also raises sheep. So one cold January Ross and I went to the Pennsylvania Farm Show to check out the animals and see his cousin’s sheep.

While we were standing there in the livestock barn, this lively lady walks by and says hello to Ross’ cousin and he introduced us and we spoke for a few minutes. After she left, Ross’ cousin told us who she was and that while they had been friends for years, she had only mentioned to him a few months earlier her storied past. Ross’ cousin was involved in a charity auction and asked for just a signed baseball. She sent a number of items, not just a ball. Ross’ cousin was astounded by her kindness and generosity.

 

Click HERE for the link to the full article

A League of Their Own

(This is a recreation of the original post that had been on the blog section of baseballbetsy.com. It was lost when I upgraded the website so I have recreated it from the original saved file from 2011.)

Before the movie, “A League of Their Own” few people born after the 1950’s knew of the women of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. Phillip K. Wrigley, of Wrigley Gum and Chicago Cubs fame, wanted to keep baseball in the public eye during World War II, when most able-bodied men were away fighting.

These woman played professional sport at a time when most women would be expected to stay home, have babies and keep house; MAY BE have a job such as a secretary, but professional sports? It was unheard of. They likely didn’t know it at the time, but they started to break down the barriers, break the stereotypes that allow women to do what ever they want to do today.

Sara Jane "Salty" Sands of the Rockford Peaches
Sara Jane “Salty” Sands of the Rockford Peaches

Along this line, other than the fact that I, myself appreciate this, what stood out to me, was the little girl in the teal shirt in the first photo above. She was so excited to meet these ladies, she asked to have her picture taken with each and every one of them. For any other little girl, you might have thought that there were six Justin Beibers up there signing autographs. She was nearly in tears to see these ladies who were clearly heroes to her.

Ruth Hartman sits at the Head of the table in Red.
Ruth Hartman sits at the Head of the table in Red.
ALOTO 2
The All American Girls in Reading

When you look at the pictures of the ball below, you will see that these ladies just didn’t sign their name and pass the ball, they each noted what teams they played with and when. Ruth Kramer Hartman “The Queen of Baseballtown” made the comment to me, “These boys today, they just scribble on the ball. You can hardly read them.” It was obvious that they took this seriously and it meant something to them as well.

ALOTO ball 4
Virginia Ventura 1951-53 Rockford Peaches Gert Alderfer Chicago Colleens (1950), Kalamazoo Lassies (1950), Springfield Sallies (1949)
ALOTO ball 3
Joanne McComb Springfield Sallies 1950
ALOTO ball 2
Sara Jane “Salty” Sands Rockford Peaches 1953-1954 Gloria Cordes Elliott All Star Team (1952, 1953, 1954), Battle Creek Belles (1951), Kalamazoo Lassies (1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954), Muskegon Lassies (1950), Racine Belles (1950)
Ruth Hartman's Autograph
Ruth Hartman Fort Wayne Daisies (1946), Grand Rapids Chicks (1947), Racine Belles (1946)

I think one of the more telling moments was when the gentleman behind me in line saw Sara Jane “Salty” Sands “Baseball Hall of Fame” t-shirt. He asked her, “Oh so you’re in the women’s hall of fame.” She gave him the eye and said, “No, THE Hall of Fame, the one in COOPERSTOWN, New York.” I was so proud of her.

Ruth Hartman-Queen of Baseballtown Trophy
Ruth Hartman-Queen of Baseballtown Trophy

As I mentioned earlier, Ruth Kramer Hartman is a Queen of Baseballtown. A King or Queen of Baseballtown is honored every year for their accomplishments and contributions to baseball/softball. Since 2003, only 8 people have been so honored…Ruth is the only woman, so far.

My first contact with Ruth was several years ago. Since retiring from teaching, Ruth has gone on to raise sheep for competition. Ross’ cousin also raises sheep. So one cold January, Ross and I went to the Pennsylvania Farm Show to check out the animals and see his cousin’s sheep.

While we were standing there in the livestock barn, this lively lady walks by and says hello to Ross’ cousin and he introduced us and we spoke for a few minutes. After she left, Ross’ cousin told us who she was and that while they had been friends for years, she had only mentioned to him a few months earlier her storied past. Ross’ cousin was involved in a charity auction and asked for just a signed baseball. She sent a number of items, not just a ball. Ross’ cousin was astounded by her kindness and generosity.

I suppose I should mention that there was a game in Reading last night as well.

Austin Hyatt coming off a series of well-pitched games started for the Reading Phillies. Chuck LaMar, the Director of the Phillies Minor League system as sitting behind home plate. He was obviously there to check on Hyatt’s development.

I was late getting to my seat as I had been getting my ball autographed. It wasn’t even the end of the first inning and Hyatt was out. He gave up 4 runs and was pulled after only two outs. Hyatt seemed unable to find the strike zone and his night was over early.

It was a rough night in Baseballtown. Behind by 5 in only the first inning, it looked to be a long night. Brent Clevlen did get a homer but they did little else.

In the 9th, they started to rally back…they fought to within one and with 2 outs and the bases loaded they brought in a new pitcher to pitch to Derrick Mitchell. Sunday night, Mitchell was hot, hitting a home run, a triple and a double, so it was apparent that the Baysox wanted to bring in a fresh arm. Alas, there was no joy in Baseballtown, the mighty Mitchell was struck out.