Baseball has a reputation of being a sport for men. Women play volleyball, basketball, soccer, and softball, but you seldom hear about a woman playing baseball. However, this perception is wrong and girls have been playing hardball for a long time. In fact, the first professional baseball team was the Dolly Vardens of Philadelphia, founded in 1867 and composed only by women. Due to this long history of women’s baseball, we rank and list the greatest female baseball players, from women rights pioneers to real professionals who made baseball their living.
Greatest Female Baseball Players of All Time
10. Dottie Schroeder
Dorothy Schroeder was nicknamed “The Human Vacuum Machine”. She was arguably the best fielder in the history of AAGPBL (All American Girls Professional Baseball League, a female baseball league that ran from 1943 to 1954. The most successful women’s baseball circuit in history), making amazing plays in the shortstop which earned her a place in our list of 10 greatest female baseball players.
She was the only player to participate in all seasons of the league history, holding records for the most games played (1,249), at-bats (4,129) and RBI’s (431) being one of five players to achieve the 400 RBI milestone. She was also the youngest player in league history, making her debut at the age of fifteen. Dottie was perhaps the prettiest girl in the league history and her face adorned the cover of Parade Magazine in 1948.
9. Toni Stone
Baseball star Toni Stone was a hero of women and civil rights in the United States when in 1953, she became the first woman to play in the Negro League and she was discriminated against the woman in a league of discriminated men. Playing baseball since she was ten years old, she was signed by Indianapolis Clowns to play second base and replace future baseball legend, Hank Aaron.
She played only two seasons in the league but she had her highlights, including a hit against legendary Satchel Paige. Tony Stone was harshly treated by her teammates who did not allow her in the dugout and requested her to play in skirts for sex appeal, which she refused. She could not be ignored when ranking the 10 greatest female baseball players.
8. Sophie Kurys
Fans nicknamed baseball star Sophie Kurys as ‘Tina Cobb’. She has earned this nickname due to her similarity with one of the greatest baseball players of all time, Ty Cobb. In 1946, in just 113 games she stole 201 bases (bases were 72’ apart), which is not only the AAGPBL record but the worldwide professional baseball record. Even more impressive: that year, she was caught stealing only two times. In her career, she amassed a total of 1,114 stolen bases, the all-time record for the league and the world record until surpassed by Rickey Henderson in 1994.
She averaged 123.77 steals per season in her 9 season-career, a no brainer choice for the list of 10 greatest female baseball players. In addition, she also holds the all-time record for runs scored with 688. Sophie Kurys was a gifted athlete, performing well not only in baseball but also in basketball, volleyball, track, bowling, and golf.
7. Dorothy Kamenshek
She was, no doubt, the best hitter in AAGPBL history and one of 10 greatest female baseball players. Kamenshek was the only player to surpass the 1,000 hits barrier, finishing with an all-time record of 1,009 hits and a batting average of .292, fourth of all time but surpassed by players who spent the bulk of their careers in the league “live-ball” era.
Dorothy was not a slugger but she accumulated 89 doubles and 41 triples (2nd of all time). Kamenshek had an unbelievable strikeout ratio of 1 per 46.12 AB. She won two batting titles in 1946 and 1947 with batting averages of .316 and .306 respectively. She also was a good base stealer, amassing 631 thefts.
6. Julie Croteau
In 1988, Croteau sued her High School in Virginia for her right to play baseball but she lost. She was so persistent in pursuit her dreams of playing baseball that she eventually became the first woman to play in men’s NCAA as a first baseman for Saint Mary’s College in Maryland 1989 and later in 1995, one of two girls to play a game in MLB-sanctioned winter league, when she appeared in the Hawaiian League.
She was a double in the movie A league of their own, based on the history of AAGPBL and is number six amongst the 10 greatest female baseball players.
5. Jean Faut
In none of her nine years in AAGPBL, her ERA climbed over 1.60 points, she was named an All-Star 4 times and was only one of two to gain two Player of Year award. She threw 4 no-hitters and is, to the point that my research has come, the only person to throw two perfect games in professional baseball. She was the best pitcher in that league history and one of 10 greatest female baseball players.
Jean led the league in ERA from 1950 to 1953, the most offense-friendly years in the league history. She never had a losing record and won at least 20 games three times, two of them in a row.
4. Ila Borders
Borders was a left-handed pitcher who became the second woman to start a men’s NCAA baseball game. In 1997, she became the first woman to play in an independent professional baseball league and her performance was limited to only 15 appearances and posted a 7.53 ERA with no decisions.
In July of 1998, she became the first woman player to start a men’s professional baseball game, a few weeks later she became the first women pitcher to record a win in men’s professional baseball. Her career ended in 2000 after a disappointing season. Border’s career highlights and success earned her the fourth place in our list of the 10 greatest female baseball players.
3. Connie Wisniewski
She has earned her nickname, the Polish Rifle, because of her heritage. Fans also know her as the “Iron Woman” due to her durability in the AAGPBL. Connie was one of the best all-around players in league history. Besides, she now holds the third place in our list of the 10 greatest female baseball players. In 1946 she opened 40 games and… threw them all complete! She had 366 innings of work, 79 strikeouts, 33 wins, and 9 losses, her ERA was 0.96 and was named to the ‘All-Star Team’.
She repeated the All-Star honors in 1948… not for her pitching but her hitting, that year she hit a league-high of 7 home runs with .289 batting average (3rd overall) and 66 RBI (2nd). She finished with career numbers of 274 batting average and 595 hits. Connie had 79 doubles, 30 triples, 1.68 eras and a 107-48 record for a .690 winning percentage, the league all-time record. She died of cancer in 1994.
2. Eri Yoshida
Arriving at spot two in the list of 10 greatest female baseball players, Eri Yoshida comes from Japan. Japanese men’s professional baseball team drafted her at the age of just 16, in 2008. She is a knuckleball specialist who learned the pitch by herself she was 14 after watching Tim Wakefield. Her knuckleball has been clocked at 50 mph.
She has played for several professional male teams in independent leagues, in Japan and the United State. And, that made her the first woman to play professional baseball in two countries.
1. Doris Sams
Sams was probably the only six-tool player in AAGPBL history. She could hit for average and power, she could field, she could run, she could throw and she could pitch… no wonder why she is our number 1 pick in our list of the 10 greatest female baseball players. Sams was a pitcher turned outfielder and was selected to the All-Star Team in both positions. Fans still regard her as the only player to achieve that. She received the “Player of the Year” award twice and became a part of five All-Star Teams.
Doris won a batting crown and home run title; she was consistently amongst the leaders in offensive and pitching categories; she threw a no-hitter and a perfect game. In 1952, she established a home run record with 12 bombers, including the longest in the league history. She was great as a pitcher, hitter, and fielder and that’s why we choose her number one.
There are more players who could have made our lists, such as pioneers Alta Weiss, Maud Nelson, Eleanor Engels or Sal Coats, Black women who played in the Negro Leagues as Mamie Johnson or Connie Morgan, and AAGPBL players like Eleanor Callow, Helen Fox, and Weaver sisters. But these were the Greatest Female Baseball players of All Time.