RIP to Anna Mae “Annie” O’Dowd, a catcher for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. According to the official @AAGPBL Twitter account, she died on December 26 at the age of 89. She played for the Chicago Colleens (1949), Kenosha Comets (1949), Kalamazoo Lassies (1950), Muskegon Lassies (1950), Racine Belles (1950), Springfield Sallies (1950) and Battle Creek Belles (1951).
O’Dowd was born in Chicago on April 29, 1929. According to a lengthy video interview you can access from her AAGPBL profile page, she learned to play baseball from her brother. After playing street baseball with the neighborhood boys, O’Dowd decided to try out for the AAGPBL when she saw an ad in the paper looking for women baseball players. Her regular job was working at a box factory in Chicago, so it was definitely a step up.
She first played with the Chicago Colleens, a traveling baseball team, before playing for several teams in the AAGPBL. Thanks to her time with the league, she was able to visit 27 different states. Though she hoped to become a first baseman, she was given the job of catcher and adjusted to it well. She had a good arm to go with a pretty good bat. In 66 games in 1950, she hit .262 with 53 hits and 30 RBIs. She also stole 12 bases. After the 1951 season, in which she batted .132 in 26 games according to the official stats, she retired to go find a “real job.”
After her time in the AAGPBL, O’Dowd worked at the box factory again and for Campbell Soup before becoming a buyer for Ameritech Communications. She was present for the filming of “A League of Their Own,” and once the movie was released she started receiving fan mail and autograph requests (bless you, Penny Marshall). O’Dowd attended a couple of the AAGPBL reunions in 1986 and 2016. She also attended the unveiling of the AAGPBL statue at Cooperstown, N.Y. in 2006.
In her retirement, she lived in Marietta, Ga., and enjoyed golf and pickle ball. She spent her last years living at The Villages, Fla.