Diamonds and girls with style ...

By Sandra L. Brown

October 25, 2017 2:23 PM

 

The following year she joined the National Girls Baseball League and played seven years for various teams before finally returning to Lloydminster in 1959 and “hanging up her cleats and mitt.”
In 1983 the Lloydminster National Hosting Committee named Lucella an Honorary Chairperson for the Canadian Junior A Ladies Softball Championship Tournament.
I had the honor of meeting Lucella many years ago.
During our visit she shared captivating stories about her ball playing days. 
Her collection of magazine articles, newspaper clippings, photographs and memorabilia was a visible tribute of Lucella’s contributions to the sport of Girls Professional Baseball League rather than only individual players. 
A players’ reunion was held and many times throughout the years bringing back countless memories of playing ball together.
Lucella married George Ross in 1960 and they shared a wonderful life together in Lloydminster. 
Lucella Ross passed away in 2012 at the age of 91 leaving a passionate sports legacy spanning Canada and the United States.
In her memory, the Girls Prairie Softball League began awarding the MacLean-Ross Cup in 2012. 
Affectionally called Lu by family and friends, she is also fondly remembered for a positive attitude and strong faith.
A different side to their life playing ball is portrayed in A League of Their Own. 
This embellished portrayal adds sensationalism and a modern twist to the girls’ professional league. 
It may have started off as a form of entertainment during wartime but these women were professionals both on and off the diamond. 
Lucella MacLean Ross truly exemplified a distinctive spirit and I am humbled to have met this remarkable woman.
Coming soon to Lloydminster, Diamond Girls is a play about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with emphasis on its Saskatchewan players.
The 1992 movie A League of Their Own portrays a fictionalized account of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. 
Legendary Phillip K. Wrigley organized this professional league in 1943. 
Final tryouts held at Wrigley Field in Chicago saw 60 players selected to play on one of its four original teams; the Kenosha Comets, Racine Belles, Rockford Peaches and South Bend Blue Sox. During its 12-year history, 57 Canadian girls were part of this league.
As illustrated in the movie, Philip K. Wrigley, who inherited the Chicago Cubs major league baseball team from his father, sought a solution for the decline of minor league teams due to men being drafted for war. 
He thought this would affect the majors as well.  His committee came up with an idea of organizing a girls’ league to play in the major ball parks. Captivated by the players’ style, energy and high quality of skill on the ball diamond, attendance gradually grew.
Born in 1921, raised and educated in Lloydminster; Lucella MacLean was one of the athletic players on the inaugural South Bend Blue Sox team. 
Back up for the catcher, she also played first base and right field. 
According to Wikipedia, while playing in 101 games Lucella hit an overall average of .204 with 25 runs batted in. 
She also started the first triple play in the league’s history.
So how does a girl raised on the Canadian western prairie end up playing on a team in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League? 
From a young age Lucella excelled in sports and won many awards. 
She played on the town and city leagues from 1935 – 1942, Lloydminster Nationals Senior Team from 1937 – 1940 and helped the Saskatoon Pats win the Provincial Hunking Trophy in 1941.
The girls were enthusiastic to try out and be a part of the new American League in the spring of 1943 despite public skepticism. 
These young women were noted for their “athletic ability and feminine appeal.” 
Lucella was one of 280 girls invited to tryout.  Remaining in this league for a few years, she eventually returned to Canada in 1945 to play for the Army and Navy Pats in Edmonton.

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