Saskatchewan

Regina ball player helped inspire Geena Davis character in A League of Their Own

The Regina woman who helped inspire Geena Davis's character in the hit movie A League of Their Own is being honoured in Regina this weekend, with a commemorative mural in the park where she played ball for decades.

Legendary baseball player Mary 'Bonnie' Baker honoured in Regina

The Regina woman who helped inspire Geena Davis's character in A League of Their Own is being honoured in Regina this weekend, with a commemorative mural in the park where she played ball for decades.

In 1943, Mary 'Bonnie' Baker was working at the Army and Navy store in Regina during the day, and playing for the store's A&N Bombers baseball team at night. 

Mary 'Bonnie' Baker was playing for the Regina Army & Navy Bombers when she was scouted to play in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. (Baker Family)

An American scout spotted her and brought her down to the United States to play in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPL). 

Mary 'Bonnie' Baker played more games in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League than any other player. (Baker family)

Baker played back catcher for the South Bend Blue Sox in Indiana and the Kalamazoo Lassies in Michigan. 
Three times in her career she was named the league's all-star catcher. 

The face of women's baseball

In addition to being a great baseball player, Baker was also known for her good looks. Reporters nicknamed her 'Pretty Bonnie Baker" and she was often used in publicity shots for the League. 

In 1945 she even made the cover of Life Magazine. 

Mary 'Bonnie' Baker from Regina became legendary after playing in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (Baker family)

Baker came from a family of baseball players and they were supportive of her playing professional ball in the 'States. 

According to family, Baker had a deal with her husband that she would quit baseball when he came back from the war, but she went on to play for many for years, even after he returned in 1945. 

Their daughter Maureen 'Chick' Baker was born in 1951. Baker took that year off and then went back to the league for one last year, bringing along Maureen and a nanny. 

Maureen says she earned the nickname 'Chicky' from the other players on her mother's team, and the nickname stuck. 

Mural commemorates legendary ball player

The City of Regina is commemorating Mary 'Bonnie' Baker and her contributions to women's baseball with a mural in Central Park. 

Maureen Baker said she has fond memories of being lugged to her mother's games in Central Park countless times over the years and it means a lot to her family to have her mother's contributions honoured in this way. 

They showed the world that women were capable of being tough and being professional athletes.- Maureen 'Chick' Baker

"They were trailblazers; they showed the world that women were capable of being tough and being professional athletes," she said.

Chick Baker said her mother's contributions to women's sport didn't end when she came back to Saskatchewan. 

"She coached girls softball for years and she really made an impact."

In addition to her coaching duties, Baker also managed the Wheat City Curling Club for 25 years and became the first female sportscaster in Canada when she worked for CKRM in Regina. 

Event this weekend

At 1 p.m. CST on Saturday, there will be an official unveiling of a new commemorative garden and mural by Saskatchewan artist Carly Jaye Smith.

A mural has been dedicated to the legendary Regina ball player Mary 'Bonnie' Baker, in Regina's Victoria Park. (Josh Vogt CBC)

The ceremony takes place at Central Park and will be followed by a softball clinic for young girls through the YWCA Big Sisters of Regina. 

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