Agnes (née Zurowski) Holmes
Born: February 21, 1920 (Edenwold, Saskatchewan)
Died: June 25, 2013 (Regina, Saskatchewan)
Aggie Zurowski pitched for a season in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, a circuit made famous by the movie, “A League of Their Own.”
League president Max Carey signed Zurowski and six other young Canadian women from Alberta and Saskatchewan in the spring of 1945. Zurowski’s Regina Bombers team had won the city championship in 1944.
The right-handed pitcher was placed with the Racine (Wisc.) Belles, one of the league’s original teams when play again in 1943. The league was the creation of Philip K. Wrigley, the chewing-gum magnate and owner of the Chicago Cubs of the National League, who sought to create a war-time entertainment while men were off fighting.
The Belles played a handful of preseason games in Wisconsin in May, 1945, most notably before a large crowd of servicemen at Madison. The team, managed by Charlie Stis, a former scout for the St. Louis Browns of the American League, was met at the Racine train station by mayor Francis Wendt. The squad was photographed walking from the depot flanked by the manager and the mayor.
The rookie pitcher made her debut on the road in Kenosha, Wisc., where the Comet batters were most inhospitable to their visitor.
“Agnes Zurowski and Marie Menheer, making their hurling debuts for Racine, took the drubbing of their young lives,” reported the Racine Journal Times. “Zurowski was the losing pitcher, although she only survived into the third inning. The Comets slammed 10 hits from her offerings, and she saw six runs cross the plate before giving up to Menheer, a Kenosha native, who passed out five more safeties.”
The Comets defeated the Belles, 12-2.
Zurowski’s next appearance came during the fourth inning of a beating administered by the South Bend (Ind.) Blue Sox. The Canadian stanched the bleeding in an inning during which the Sox pushed 10 runs across the plate. She surrendered another five runs, including a home run, in the 15-3 loss.
The last-place Belles placed Zurowski on waivers after those two disappointing appearances. The Fort Wayne (Ind.) Daisies adder her to their roster for use in long relief.
Zurowski pitched 12 innings in four games, surrendering 17 earned runs. She issued nine bases on balls with two strikeouts. Her debut defeat was the only time in which she was pitcher of record.
The pitcher then returned to Canada, where she pitched for the powerhouse Edmonton Mortons, whose entire roster from 1945-52 was inducted into the Softball Alberta Hall of Fame in 1988.
The 64 Canadian-born women who played in the pioneering AAGPBL were inducted by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998.
Zurowski worked at the Army & Navy department store in Regina for 48 years before retiring in 1989.
She was born on the family farm five miles north of the village of Edenwold, Saskatchewan, to Maria Theresia (Mary Theresa) (née Kwasnicki) and Leon Zurowski, who were both immigrants from the Bukovina region of Austria-Hungary. Her parents are recognized as the first Catholics to settle in the district, arriving in 1907, just two years after the creation of the province of Saskatchewan.
She leaves a brother and two sisters. She was predeceased by her husband, Delbert Holmes, and by four brothers and by four sisters.
Despite her achievements, her family name was often misspelled as Zurkowski.