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‘League of Their Own’ Player Dies

July 24, 2002

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NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. (AP) _ Mildred ``Millie″ Deegan, who starred for 10 seasons playing women’s professional baseball has died. She was 82.

Deegan died Sunday after a two-year battle with cancer, her family said.

The softball player turned hardball player joined the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League from its founding in 1943 until 1952. The league lasted just two years after she left.

For six of her years in the league, Deegan pitched and played second base for the famed Rockford Peaches, the team that featured Madonna, Geena Davis and Tom Hanks in the 1992 hit movie ``A League of Their Own.″

``When the movie first came out, I never got off the phone . . .″ Deegan told the St. Petersburg Times in a 1992 interview. ``To me it felt like being reincarnated. I felt like grabbing my duffel bag and going off to play.″

Before switching to baseball, Deegan earned a reputation as ``the Babe Ruth of women’s softball,″ her family said. Once at the old Madison Square Garden in New York, she hit a softball so far that even Ruth was impressed. He posed with her and squeezed her biceps.

After retiring from baseball, Deegan joined a New Jersey softball team, which she remained with as a coach for about 20 years.

She moved to Florida in 1976 and lived in Pinellas Park until moving to New Port Richey nine years ago.

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