116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Cedar Rapids teen girl
History Happenings: But Pat Mason’s 1950 high school graduation threw her a curve ball
By Jessica and Rob Cline, - The History Center
Mar. 21, 2023 5:00 am, Updated: Apr. 19, 2023 8:26 pm
Your correspondents are serious baseball fans, excited by both MLB spring training and the World Baseball Classic.
Baseball, of course, has a long history in Linn County. As we were looking for a home run of a story to share here, we happened upon a ballplayer from Cedar Rapids we hadn’t heard of before.
We spotted a reference to a player named Pat Mason playing in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. We were eager to look up her stats.
But those stats proved hard to come by. Mason’s page on the the league’s website (https://aagpbl.org) suggests that she played for the Kenosha (Wis.) Comets in 1950. She is listed as an outfielder who wore No. 22. However, the spots that should list which hand she threw with and which side of the plate she batted from areblank. That seemed odd.
Odder still, the website known as Stats Crew (statscrew.com), which has compiled statistics for the girls baseball league, doesn’t list Mason among the 1950 Kenosha Comets at all.
So did she join the league or not? And if she did, did she play? And if so, how well did she play?
Finding out about Pat
We didn’t know the answers to any of those questions—but we knew where we might find them. With a helping hand from Tara Templeman, The History Center’s curator, we were able to piece Mason’s story together.
The History Center’s archives include the 1950 yearbook from Franklin High School (now Franklin Middle School), which reveals that Pat Mason was a busy student. She was a member of the thespian troupe, the a cappella choir and the mathematics club, among other activities. She was also a multisport athlete, playing basketball, tennis and volleyball.
Neither baseball nor softball is listed among her activities. Nevertheless, on April 13, 1950, The Gazette reported that Mason was among five area women who were headed to South Bend, Ind., to try out for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.
On April 26, 1950, The Gazette reported that Mason “is to be Cedar Rapids’ first representative in the All-American Girls baseball league.” The article had a bit more detail about how Mason and the others had ended up in South Bend for the tryout.
“Pat is an outfielder,” The Gazette reported. “She was one of 40 girls who attended the All-American tryout camp at Coe (College) last winter. The skill she showed there won her a bid to a rookie camp at South Bend, Ind., for one week. And her play there clinched a professional contract.”
Winning a slot
Mason told the paper she would report to Kenosha after graduation on June 2.
“This is wonderful news,” Mason said. “I’m very glad. I went to the first tryout at Coe out of curiosity more than anything. But I liked it and am looking forward to playing in the league.”
Making the team appears to have made Mason a bit of a local celebrity.
On May 3, 1950, The Gazette published a photo of Mason with two members of the Franklin Thunderbolt baseball team. The two male ballplayers tower over her in their school jerseys while Mason smiles broadly in a jersey that appears to sport the girls baseball league patch on the left sleeve.
The caption notes that Mason “joined Franklin High School’s baseball team in a workout (for picture purposes only).” Apparently, The Gazette didn’t want readers to think Mason had actually played baseball with the boys.
On May 11, The Gazette reported that Mason would be the guest interviewee during an upcoming broadcast of KCRG’s “Teen Platter Party” series.
It seemed both the community and Mason herself were taking a lot of pride in the fact that she would be playing professional baseball.
Was not to be
But less than a month later, everything had changed. It turned out Mason would not report to Kenosha as she had planned.
The news was deflating enough that The Gazette didn’t even report the story accurately — misidentifying Mason’s sport in a headline reading, “Pat Mason Declines Girls’ Softball Spot.”
“She had previously planned to join the Oshkosh club,” the article stated, misidentifying the town in which Mason had been scheduled to compete. “But her graduation from Franklin High School came after the opening of the league,and did not permit her to join the team.”
Earlier reporting had suggested that everything had been arranged for Mason to join the Comets after her graduation. What exactly changed is unclear.
That ending isn’t wholly satisfactory to us, and it explains how Mason might be listed on the girls baseball league’s website despite having no stats.
Jessica Cline is a Leadership & Character Scholar at Wake Forest University. Her dad, Rob Cline, is not a scholar of any kind. They write this monthly column for The History Center. Comments: HistoricalClines@gmail.com