Doris (née Shero) Witiuk
Born: May 22, 1929 (Winnipeg)
Died: January 26, 2014 (Spokane, Washington)
Dora (Shero) Witiuk played two seasons in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, the professional circuit glorified in the Hollywood movie, “A League of Their Own.”
Witiuk, who played before she was married and so appears in box scores as Shero, was an outfielder for the Racine (Wis.) Belles in 1950. She managed just 18 hits — all singles — in 194 at-bats for a terrible .093 batting average. She retained a roster spot for her speed (10 stolen bases) and her prowess as a fielder. Her nickname was Baser and her salary was $55 per week.
The utility outfielder moved with her team to Battle Creek, Mich., for the 1951 campaign, during which she appeared in 14 games. She had just four hits — again, all singles — in 40 at-bats for a .100 average.
“Once I started throwing a ball, I never put my glove down,” she said in 1992. “All the girls were good. They could take the ball and in one motion throw you out hard. Just like the men.”
She was the youngest of eight children born to Emilia and Alexander Shero in the Manitoba capital. She was an outstanding athlete at Isaac Newton High, playing on a championship volleyball team. In 1946-47, she played on the Winnipeg Pegs basketball team, finalists for the Dominion senior women’s championship, which they lost in a three-game sweep — 31-15, 41-20, 35-25 — to Vancouver Nut House. She scored five points in the final game.
In 1953, she married Steve Witiuk, a professional hockey player who had been her high school sweetheart. (The right winger scored three goals and added eight assists in 33 games with the Chicago Black Hawks in 1951-52.) The couple moved in with Dora’s older brother, Fred, a pro defenceman himself who skated three seasons with the New York Rangers and would later become a Hockey Hall of Fame coach with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. Steve Witiuk’s career lasted 17 more seasons in the minor pro Western Hockey League. The couple moved to Spokane, Wash., in 1962.
In 1998, the 64 Canadian-born athletes who played in the All-American league were inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame at St. Marys, Ont.
Dora Witiuk, who died aged 84, leaves her husband; four children; nine grandchildren; and, six great-grandchildren.