Thelma "Tiby" Eisen: Female Baseall Star
by Seymour “Sy” Brody
In recognition for her years of playing professional baseball in women’s leagues. Thelma “Tiby” Eisen has been inducted in the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, in Commack, NY, and the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in West Hills, California.
On May 20, 2006, Eisen was inducted into the Northeast Indiana Baseball Association Hall of Fame.
She was born on May 11, 1922, in Los Angeles, California. Eisen grew up in the Jewish section of Los Angeles with her parents and grandmother. When she was young, she went with her grandmother to religious services at the local synagogue.
When she 14, she started playing semi-professional softball. At age 18, she played professional women’s football until the city council banned this sport.
In those days, women in sports were a curiosity. Jewish women in sports were frowned upon.
In 1943, Eisen signed a contract to play with the Milwaukee Chicks, a member of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. A year later, the team moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Eisen’s best season was in 1946, when she led the league in triples, stole 128 bases and made the all-star team.
Her family had mixed feeling about her playing baseball. They thought that she could do better with her career.
When her team played a big charity game in Chicago for a Jewish hospital, her parents, relatives and friends were in the stands cheering her on.
Eisen’s name and picture were in every Jewish newspaper throughout the country.
In all of her years as a professional player, she only encountered one anti-Semitic incident. She was playing for Fort Wayne as an outfielder. In one game she started to come off the field, thinking it was three out. The manager came running towards her yelling “It is only two out.” Later, he turned to one of his players and said, “I never heard of a Jew that couldn’t count.”
After her professional baseball career ended, she went to work for the telephone company. She became involved in Sports Educators of America, which arranges free baseball clinics for boys and girls in the Los Angeles area.
Thelma “Tiby” Eisen is an inspiration and model for all Jewish girls who are interested in sports.
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