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Faye Dancer

Faye Dancer

Faye Dancer

Tiger
Santa Monica, CA  US
04/24/1925
05/22/2002
Right
Right
Player
Utility Outfield,First Base,Pitcher
Fort Wayne Daisies (1945, 1946, 1947), Minneapolis Millerettes (1944), Peoria Redwings (1947, 1948, 1950)
Faye Dancer was the inspiration for Madonna's "All the Way Mae" character in the 1992 Hit Comedy film "A League of Their Own". In the league she was known as "all the way Faye" and noted for her antics on the field and interaction with the fans.

Faye Dancer Seasonal Pitching Records

Year G IP R ER ERA BB SO HB WP W L PCT
1945 1 3 - - - - - - - - - .000
1946 21 148 67 32 1.93 59 38 14 5 10 9 .526
1947 4 26 15 12 - 11 5 2 2 1 2 .333

Faye Dancer Seasonal Batting Record

Year G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO AVG
1944 96 329 58 90 6 5 2 48 63 53 24 .274
1945 108 343 44 67 7 1 3 29 29 46 38 .195
1946 110 368 56 92 11 5 1 43 68 52 22 .250
1947 106 380 51 90 11 1 2 26 71 43 30 .237
1948 122 459 89 109 10 2 6 34 102 55 79 .237
1950 49 193 25 40 8 0 2 13 19 12 30 .207

Profile Biography

See Related  Articles (upper left corner of this page ) for complete biography.

Edited from LA Times article in 2002:  LaVonne Pepper Paire Davis Interview on Faye Dancer.

For six seasons, between 1944 and 1950, the West Los Ange]es native played center field and occasionally pitched for the Minneapolis Millerettes, the Fort Wayne Daisies, and the Peoria Redwings. "She was a great all-around ballplayer," said Lavonne "Pepper"  Paire Davis, Dancer's former teammate and lifelong friend.  

Labeled a "fly-catching genius" by sportswriters of the day, Dancer "could go back on the dead run, catch the ball over her shoulder, wheel  around and in one motion throw a strike to the catcher in the air from deep center field," said Davis.  Dancer also was known for her hitting and base stealing.  In 1948, she stole 108 bases.

"She was that rare breed of  ball player who could get up to bat, lay down a perfect bunt, then steal second base," said Davis. "Then, the next time up, she could hit the long ball and knock it out of the ballpark. She led the league in both categories at times, in stolen bases and home runs.

Davis, who served as a technical advisor on "A League of Their Own" and was a model for Geena Davis' catcher character, said Dancer inspired the character played by Madonna.  According to Davis, Madonna's character "dwelt a little bit more on the promiscuous  side for sexual encounters, and Faye  had her share of admirers, but her [All the Way Faye] nickname really came from her all-out-style of play.  On the ballfield, there wasn't anything she wouldn't do to win. She would crash into the fence to make a catch; she'd dive head first into a base; and if a bunt was needed, she'd lay down a  bunt," Davis said. "In the All-American Girls League, we had to wear skirts  and look like ladies at all times," Dancer once said. "The guys would look at our short skirts, then look at our legs and wonder how we could slide without taking all the hide off ourselves.  Well, we did take the hide off ourselves. I loved to slide."  

Dancer's all-out playing style was memorably captured in a 1948 photograph that shows her sliding into third base to avoid being tagged by Marge Wenzell.

A large blow-up of the picture is prominently featured in the All-American Girls Baseball League exhibit at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Coopersinwn, N.Y., which includes Dancer's spikes and gloves.  Dancer joined Davis and more than 75 other former league  members for the opening of the  exhibit on Nov. 5,1988.   

The daughter of a Water and Power inspector, Dancer was born in Santa Monica in 1925 and grew up in West Los Angeles. She discovered softball in grade school,  but threw the ball so hard she  typically had to play on the boys' teams.  When she was 11, Dancer began playing in a local merchant- sponsored softball league, which played at the Veterans Administration ballpark off Wilshire Boulevard.  Always a fierce competitor, she worked hard to improve her game. "I used to practice my slides in the sand at Santa Monica beach, then go home and lie on my bed and visualize my swings while I stared up at my bedroom ceiling," Dancer told the Sacramento  Bee two years ago.

From 1940 to 1942, Dancer  and Davis were members of the Dr. Peppers, a Class A amateur girls softball team sponsored by the soft drink company.  The team played its league games at   Fielder Field at Fairfax Avenue and 3rd Street. 

 In 1943, with many major league baseball players serving in the military, chewing gum magnate and Chicago Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley and others formed the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.  In 1944, 18-year-old Dancer and Davis were among six California women ballplayers chosen by the league's West Coast scout to report to league spring training in Peru, IL.   Dancer earned a beginning salary of $75 a week, plus $2.50 a day for meals.  For three consecutive seasons  In the late 1940s, more than 1 million fans paid $1.50 admission to watch the women play.

Dancer and her fellow players  traveled the Midwest on a rickety  bus, routinely playing 10 games a week.   For the women, it was bad enough having to live down being called the Fort Wayne Daisies or the Racine Belles, but they also had to contend with wearing short-skirted uniforms that ranged in hue from bubble- gum pink to lemon yellow.  But the women, who played 110 to 130 ball games in four months, were as aggressive and tough as any male player.  Davis recalled, "You had to walk and talk and act like a lady at all times, but play baseball  like a guy."    Dancer may have played baseball like a guy, but she put her own spin on the proceedings, earning a reputation as the 'rebel of the league.'    She was forever having fun, raising her skirt up for the fans, doing the splits and handstands  when the games got quiet, Davis recalled.  "She was just as fun-loving off the field."

Each team had a chaperone and Dancer took it upon herself to initiate them:  "She'd put Limburger cheese on the light bulbs   in their rooms, replace the icing in their Oreo cookies with toothpaste and smear peanut butter on their toilet seats.  "Some of them just couldn't take it,"   Davis recalled.  Despite a 10 p.m. curfew, she and Davis were known to cut loose at night by sneaking out for beers. They'd avoid the coaches and chaperones in the hotel lobby by returning to their rooms via the fire escape.

Dancer once recalled that when she was playing for Peoria in 1947, two gangsters came by to watch. They'd arrive in a blue Packard with bullet- proof glass.  "The kingpin liked me," she said. "He offered to buy my folks a new car. He offered me a golden palomino and said he'd put me up in the sporting goods business. Once, he even asked me if I wanted anyone killed. I told him, Maybe the umpire."

Dancer retired from professional baseball in 1950. After leaving the league, which was disbanded in 1954, she took a job as an electronics technician for Hughes Aircraft. She worked for 35 years as an electronics technician for a power generator manufacturing company in Santa Monica, where she lived. In 2000, not long after being laid off from her job, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. "She was a tough lady," said Davis. "She fought every step of the way to win [in baseball] and she went out that way, fighting every step of the way."  Dancer never married. "The love of her life was killed in the war," said Davis.  She was survived by her brother, Richard.

This Califorina blonde with a colorful personality was truly the "Ty Cobb" of the AAGPBL in both ability and temperment. Her speed, her uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time, playing the batters intelligently, backing up all plays, plus a great throwing arm marked her as one of the best of the league in centerfield. She even filled in as a pitcher for the Daisies going 10 and 8. Flying feet, a cloud of dust, generally means that Faye is coming into second or third ahead of the throw. A dependable hitter, she was quite a home run hitter.Always a chatter box, some even called her a miniature Lippy Duroucher. One of Faye's highlights was a game in which she hit three homers over the fence.

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