Sarah Jane Sands or as her friends call her “Salty” was one of the women that had the chance to play in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Born in Orangeville, Pa on July 27, 1935, and as the youngest of four siblings, Salty fell instantly in love with baseball when her father took her to her first game. After that moment there was no going back, she then decided to become a batgirl for her town’s baseball team and stayed in that position until she left for her baseball career.
Salty calling herself “the town tomboy” learned a great deal by being the batgirl; this was a good opportunity because there weren’t many organized sports for girls in that time. When people asked her what she wanted to be she would tell them her dream was to play professional baseball if only she knew there was a league she could play in. Someone once told Sands, “Nothing wrong with girls playing ball as long as they look good doing it.”
The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was created when all the men went to war. When this happened many people feared that baseball would die out so they gave women the chance to play. Although Sands started in the last two years of the league, her big break came at seventeen years old when a family friend was doing business with a man in Allentown, and they ended up meeting a scout for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. A tryout was set up and she only had to throw five pitches before the scout told her she was in. The scout told Sands’ father, “She has to prove herself when she gets there.”
She was put on the Rockford Peaches, but when she got there the veterans weren’t treating the rookies well because they had come to take their positions. In her career she batted, caught, and played right field for twelve games, which she set a record for assists. Sands was extremely proud of her rifle arm and being able to meet all the girls that played.
Even though she was paid for playing she said, “We didn’t play for the money, today is all about the green stuff unfortunately.” After World War II ended all of the men returned home and sadly the league stopped. “It’s like a death in the family no more baseball,” Sands said. This didn’t stop her from playing sports she later went on to play semi-professional basketball for Olmsted Angels. Joking around Sands declared, “I’ve already been a peach and an angel what’s better than that?”
Twenty-eight years after playing, one of Sands’ teammates got everyone together for a reunion in Chicago. At this meeting the players discussed getting into the Baseball Hall Of Fame, and their request was made. That was when Penny Marshall came into the picture when she started talking to the players about the possibility of making a movie about their stories. The movie, A League of Their Own, came out in 1992, and the buzz about the Women’s League grew very popular. Sands got to be in the end of the movie playing baseball with her fellow teammates. Sands’ stated, “It’s nice to be important but more important to be nice.”
Sands got married to William Ferguson in 1957, and they had two children together. She also coached a little league team in Orangeville and drives a school bus for Central Columbia High School, which she continues to this day.