Obituary: Jean Buckley (1931-2019)

R.I.P. to Jean Buckley, an outfielder in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) for three seasons. She died on July 7 at the age of 87. She played for the Kenosha Comets (1950-51) and Rockford Peaches (1952).

Jean “Buckets” Buckley was born in Dorchester, Mass., on December 4, 1931. She grew up in Boston with a large family of 11, according to her obituary. She played on a team coached by Mary Pratt, a former Rockford Peaches player She was scouted for the AAGPBL at a tryout in Everett, Mass., in early 1950. She was invited to South Bend., Ind., to try out for the Blue Sox.

“It’s the most exciting thing in the world,” she told The South Bend Tribune. She said that she had a brother who was a baseball fan who would never think about inviting her to play one of his games. “But he thinks it is all right if I play,” she added.

Eighteen-year-old Jean Buckley at the tryout in South Bend that would launch her pro baseball career. Source: The South Bend Tribune, April 21, 1950.

She made the AAGPBL, but it was with the Kenosha Comets in 1950. She was one of nine rookies on the squad, which was managed by Johnny Gottselig, a professional hockey player who had a 16-year as a player and coach for the Chicago Black Hawks. The Comets lost their entire outfield over the offseason, so Buckley had plenty of chances to play. She batted .207 in 71 games with a couple of home runs and five stolen bases. Though she wouldn’t break the .200 mark again, she increased her power by the end of her career. In 1952 with the Peaches, she homered four times and drove in 35 runs. She also swiped 14 stolen bases, which matched her career high from the previous season.

In 255 games over three seasons, Buckley had 165 hits, 33 stolen bases, 67 runs and 88 RBIs. She hit .200, with some pop in her bat. She had 7 home runs in her career.

Buckley moved to California and studied teaching at San Francisco State University. She spent her career teaching inner-city middle school students. She moved to Fortuna, Calif., with her sister in 2001 and spent the rest of her life in a community she loved.

Her obituary ends with the following piece of sage advice: “The only thing Jean would want of anyone is to “swing away” and follow your dreams.”


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