The Obit For Earlene Risinger

'A League of Their Own' consultant Risinger dies

Bob Hersom, The Oklahoman
Wednesday, July 30, 2008 4:00 AM

Jul. 30--Helen Earlene "Beans" Risinger, who pitched in the final seven seasons of the All-America Girls Professional Baseball League, from 1948-54, died Tuesday in Altus. She was 81.

Risinger was a consultant for "A League of Their Own," the movie based on the AAGPBL.

She grew up a few miles south of Altus, in Hess. A 6-foot-1 right-hander, her crowning moment as a pro ballplayer came in the 1953 league championship game.

Pitching for the Grand Rapids Chicks, she faced Kalamazoo cleanup batter Doris "Sammye" Sams with two out, the bases loaded and the Chicks ahead by one run. She clinched the title by striking out Sams, who was a two-time league player of the year and six-time all-star -- and had homered in her previous at-bat.

Risinger had a 2.51 career earned run average in the AAGPBL. Her best season was 1953, when her won-lost record was 15-10.

She was born March 20, 1927, in Hess. Her start as a professional baseball player was prompted by her reading about team tryouts in The Oklahoman in the spring of 1947.

She signed a contract to play for the Rockford Peaches in the summer of '47. But she got homesick on the train ride from Oklahoma City to Rockford and, in Chicago, changed her destination from Rockford to Oklahoma City.

A year later, in 1948, Risinger did make the train ride to pro baseball, this time from Oklahoma City to Springfield, Ill.

She switched from the Springfield Sallies to the Grand Rapids Chicks in 1949, for the final six years of her pro baseball career. She remained in Grand Rapids, Mich., until two years ago, when she moved back to Hess.

Memorial services are 10 a.m. Friday at the Lowell-Tims Funeral Home in Altus. Interment will be at the Hess Cemetery.