She was a baseball star. At bat, a good hitter. On the basepaths, a fast and fearless runner.
Born in 1922 into an Orthodox Jewish family in Los Angeles, CA, Thelma “Tiby” Eisen became interested in sports when she was around twelve or thirteen years old. As she would later say, “Well, I got interested in sports because we lived near a playground, and it was called Echo Park at the time in Los Angeles…At Echo Park one day, I was down there playing a little tennis, and some gentleman came up and asked if I was interested in playing softball. And I said, ‘Well, I don’t know–I’ve never really played.’ And he said he was starting up a team, and he thought that I could throw the tennis ball pretty good because I was fast. So anyway, that’s how I got started.”
By fourteen, she was playing in a semi-pro softball league. At eighteen, she was a fullback in what would be a short-lived professional football league for women. And in 1944, Tiby joined the American Girls Professional Baseball League, where she would play in 966 games, stealing 674 bases. After her professional baseball career ended, she played in a local Los Angeles softball league.
Years later, while helping establish the women’s exhibit in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993, she said, “We’re trying to record this so we have our place in history. It’s important to keep our baseball league in the limelight. It gets pushed into the background … [just as] women have been pushed into the background forever. If they knew more about our league, perhaps in the future some women will say, ‘Hey, maybe we can do it again.'”
Tiby passed away in 2014.
“Baseball star Thelma ‘Tiby’ Eisen” sources: Spaner, David. “Thelma Eisen.” Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women. 31 December 1999. Jewish Women’s Archive. (Viewed on July 5th, 2021) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/eisen-thelma-tiby>. / Thelma Eisen – Wikipedia / Photograph of Thelma taken in 1945 – American Jewish Historical Society Photography Collection / Wikimedia Commons / “Thelma ‘Tiby’ Eisen..” The Free Library. 2014 University of Nebraska Press 23 Nov. 2022 https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Thelma+%22Tiby%22+Eisen.-a0388428435
Note: Please click here to read a Snapshot Biography of another star athlete, Wilma Rudolph.