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Betty Trezza, 81; played baseball in league that inspired movie

January 19, 2007|From Times Wire Reports

Betty Trezza, a pioneering player in the World War II-era All-American Girls Professional Baseball League and a model for one of the characters in the 1992 movie "A League of Their Own," has died. She was 81.

Trezza died of a heart attack Tuesday at her childhood home in Brooklyn, N.Y., her sister-in-law Sally Trezza said.

Born Aug. 4, 1925, in Brooklyn, Trezza was one of 12 children. A tomboy, she learned to play stickball while growing up and at age 17 was recruited as a shortstop and assigned to the Minneapolis Millerettes of the women's league in 1944.

When Minneapolis was replaced in 1945 by the Fort Wayne Daisies, Trezza split the year between the Daisies and the South Bend Blue Sox.

She moved in 1946 to the Racine Belles, the team featured in "A League of Their Own," the Penny Marshall film starring Rosie O'Donnell, Madonna and Tom Hanks.

Madonna did not play Trezza in the movie, as is sometimes suggested.

Lavonne Davis, who played with Trezza on the Belles, told the New York Times on Wednesday that the model for Madonna's character was Faye Dancer, who died in 2002. Davis said Trezza was possibly the inspiration for the "Betty Spaghetti" character, played by Tracy Reiner.

Trezza spent five seasons in Racine and seven in the league, which was started in 1943 as a way to maintain interest in baseball during World War II. It folded in 1954.

After her baseball career, Trezza went to work as a supervisor in the data entry department of the Pfizer pharmaceutical company, her sister-in-law said.

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