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Dottie Key, 80; Women's Baseball Star

May 10, 2003|From Associated Press

ROCKFORD, Ill. — Dottie Ferguson Key, who played for 10 seasons with the Rockford Peaches in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, has died at the age of 80.

She died Thursday at the home of daughter Dona Ericksen, who said her mother had cancer.

Key appeared in several clips featured in the 1987 documentary "A League of Their Own," and was one of the inspirations for the Mae "All the Way" Mordabito character played by Madonna in the 1992 movie.

Her road uniform is part of the Women in Baseball exhibit in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

"She was strictly a baseball player. She loved it," said Helen "Sis" Waddell Wyatt, a member of the 1950 and 1951 Peaches.

Key, who played second base and center field, was a member of all four of Rockford's league championships in 1945, '48, '49 and '50.

"I'd rather play ball than eat or sleep," Key said before boarding a bus bound for a league reunion in 1986.

World War II prevented Key from an Olympic appearance for her native Canada after she became the North American women's speed skating champion in 1939.

The Peaches drafted her in 1945, and she remained with the team until the league disbanded in 1954.

In 1998, Key was inducted into the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame and the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. In April, she won the YWCA's Janet Lynn Sports Award.

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