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Dolores Lee

Sport: Baseball

Born: April 21, 1935

Died: May 14, 2014

Town: Garfield & Jersey City

Dolores Margaret Lee was born April 21, 1935 in Jersey City and grew up in Garfield. A superb all-around athlete, she went toe-to-toe with her brothers and other neighborhood boys in baseball and basketball. Dolores attended high school at St. Dominic Academy in Jersey City, about 20 miles from her home. Although the school did not offer girls sports in the years following World War II, the local CYO programs gave Dolores an outlet for her abilities. Her father was her biggest supporter. He always told Dolores, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it.”

During the summers, Dolores played for the Garfield Flashettes softball team. It was managed by Slim Berger, whose daughter Joan was a fine player and soon to be fast friend. As soon as Dolores turned 16, Slim urged her to try out for the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. She joined the Rockford Peaches after graduation in 1952, playing for manager Bill Allington.

Dolores had one of the strongest right arms in the league. She pitched and played the infield. The teenager teammates called “Pickles” went 1–2 on the mound but hit and fielded well as a second baseman and was named Rookie of the Year. The Belles finished 55–54. In 1953, at age 18, Dolores distinguished herself as one of the AAGPBL’s top hurlers, winning 12 games and posting a 2.24 ERA. In 1954, the AAGPBL’s final season, she won 10 more games and struck out 94 batters. That spring she also appeared a s a mystery guest on What’s My Line.

After the league folded, Dolores joined Bill Allington’s traveling All-Star squad, barnstorming from town to town, usually playing local men’s teams. She pitched and played third base, and was a featured attraction in pre-game exhibitions. Her signature trick was to throw two baseballs at the same time, to teammates standing in each of the batter’s boxes. This inspired the famous Rosie O’Donnell scene in the film A League of Their Own.

Dolores quit the All-Stars in 1958 to become the first full-time female officer in the 850-member Jersey City Police Department. Any thought that she couldn’t handle the job was erased when she achieved the top scores in both the written and physical portions of the entrance exam. However, she received $2,700 less than the minimum salary and went to court to rectify the situation. Dolores prevailed in one of the state’s first high-profile sex discrimination cases.

Dolores married detective Chris Dries in1963 and had a son. After retiring from the force in 1978, Dolores moved to New Mexico. After A League of Our Own was made (Dolores had a cameo in the movie) she reunited with her old teammates at various events. In 2005 she was inducted into the Hudson County Athletic Hall of Fame. Dolores passed away in 2014 at the age of 79.

 

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