(02/21/13) - Seventy years ago a Flint woman became a part of sports history when she signed
a contract to become a professional baseball player.
Sophie Kurys died last weekend.
"She knew she could do anything athletically that a man could do," said JoAnn Rodery, Kurys' niece.
During World War II, with millions of American men in the military, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was formed. Among those recruits was Kurys, who was born and raised in Flint.
"She signed the contract the day before her eighteenth birthday," Rodery said.
Kurys started with the Racine Belles, in Wisconsin.
"She never played second base until converted to that position in her first year with the Belles in '43," Rodery said. That era was captured in the 1992 movie "A League of Their Own."
A book on baseball featured Stan Musial on the front cover and Kurys on the back.
"The Flint Flash however came back in '46 to literally tear the record books apart," Rodery said, while reading from the book.
Kurys, who never married, doted on her relatives.
"Anytime any of her nieces and nephews needed a hand, needed money, needed anything, she was there," Rodery said.
In 1986, Kurys name was added to the Greater Flint Area Sports Hall of Fame. They made note of her stolen bases and runs scored.
"They had a big dinner. We all went. She spoke," Rodery said.
When Sophie's pro playing career was over, she joined the business world and moved to Scottsdale, Arizona. She died Feb. 17 at the age of 87.
"She was kind of my hero," Rodery said.
A memorial service for Kurys will be held at 11 Saturday morning at St. Robert's Catholic Church in Flushing.
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