Obit of the Day: “The Flint Flash”
Sophie Kurys stole. A lot. During her nine seasons in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, she swiped 1114 bases*. (The record for Major League Baseball is 1406 by Rickey Henderson - in 25 seasons.) In 1946, Ms. Kurys would steal 201 bases^, score 117 runs, and hit .286, good enough for Player of the Year.
Ms. Kurys would play eight seasons at second base with the Racine (WI) Belles (1943-1950) and one season with the Battle Creek (MI) Belles (1952). (There is no record on why she missed the 1951 season). She was selected for three All-Star games (1946-1948) and won two AAGPBL championships in 1943 and 1946 - when, according to reports, she scored the winning run in the 14th inning.
Random note 1: Ms. Kunys did all this sliding in a short skirt because it was determined that long pants, standard in men’s baseball, would not be feminine enough.
In 1987 she was inducted into the Greater Flint Area Sports Hall of Fame. She passed away at the age of 86 on February 10, 2013 in Scottsdale, Arizona, where she has lived for forty years.
Random note 2: She was sometimes called “Tina Cobb,” in homage to Ty Cobb who was the (modern) career leader in stolen bases for MLB until 1977.
(Image is copyright The Northern Indiana Historical Society)
* During Ms. Kurys’ time in the AAGPBL the distance between bases started at 65 feet and was eventually lengthened to 72 feet. The distance in MLB is 90 feet between bases.
^ To put this in perspective, Rickey Henderson has the MLB record for stolen bases in a season with 130. He was caught stealing 42 times - a 76% success rate. Ms. Kurys stole 201 bases in 203 attempts - a 99% success rate. So not only did Ms. Kurys steal nearly every time she was on base, the opposing team knew she would, and they still couldn’t stop her. Incredible.
A week before Ms. Kunys died another AAGPBL legend passed away: Pepper Paire Davis.
Rickey Henderson is the Sophie Kurys of MLB.