RIP to Helen “Gig” Smith, an infielder who played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. According to the AAGPBL Twitter feed (@AAGPBL), she died on January 17 at the age of 97. She was also a veteran of the Woman’s Army Corps during World War II. She played for the Kenosha Comets (1947) and Grand Rapids Chicks (1948).
According to this fine article by Jim Sargent, Smith was a four-sport athlete in high school (basketball, tennis, track, and field hockey). She played on local softball teams in Richmond, Va., usually as the cleanup hitter. When the U.S. was brought into World War II with the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, she joined the Women’s Army Corps. She drew illustrations for the WAC newspaper in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., and was a catcher on a women’s fast-pitch softball team.
Smith was transferred to the Pentagon in 1944 to work in Army Military Intelligence, working in cartography. She was discharged in 1945 and attended art classes in New York City. When she started to run out of money, she caught on with the AAGPBL.
Smith had 1 hit in 8 at-bats for the Comets in 1947 and hit .192 in 22 games for the Chicks the following season. She left baseball to care for her mother in Richmond and complete her art degree. She would spend more than 30 years in the Richmond school system, teaching art and shop classes, before retiring in 1982.
Per AAGPBL Twitter, Smith will be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.