There were four — not three — Jewish players in the 1940s women’s league
There have been three verified Jewish players who participated in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in the 1940s.
The best was Thelma “Tiby” Eisen, a speedy outfielder who played for the Milwaukee Chicks, Peoria Redwings and Fort Wayne Daisies from 1944 to 1952. She made the All-Star team in 1946.
Anita Foss, a second baseman, played for the Grand Rapids Chicks, Muskegon Lassies, Springfield Sallies and Rockford Peaches in 1948-49. Blanche Schachter played about a dozen games as a catcher for the 1948 Kenosha Comets before an injury derailed her career.
For years, outfielder Margaret Wigiser was incorrectly identified as Jewish. Wigiser’s father was Jewish and her mother was Catholic. In 2006, Wigiser asked Jewish Major Leaguers Inc. to withdraw her from the group’s sets of Jewish baseball cards because she was raised Catholic.
Now it looks like there is again a fourth Jewish AAGPBL player.
Bea Chester (pictured above), a star athlete at Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn, was a backup third baseman who appeared in 29 games for the 1943 South Bend Blue Sox and 1944 Rockford Peaches. She batted .190 in 1943, the league’s inaugural season, and .214 in 1944.
There is little information about Chester’s life after baseball. The AAGPBL website features a photo of her but also explains, “This player has not been located. We have no additional information.”
According to Wikipedia, she had a son named Stephen by the time she retired. But there is plenty of family history previous to her playing days.
According to the Society of American Baseball Research, Bea was raised at the Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum. She was a daughter of Brooklyn Dodgers super fan Hilda Chester.
“Howling Hilda” used her loud booming voice and a cowbell to make noise from the Ebbets Field bleachers. The Los Angeles Times cited her as “perhaps the greatest heckler of all time” who would “scream like a fishmonger at players and managers, or lead fans in snake dances through the aisles.”
Hilda Chester died in 1978, apparently no longer in touch with her immediate family. She was buried by the Hebrew Free Burial Association on Staten Island.
According to Hilda’s SABR biography written by Rob Edelman, “What emerges here is that Hilda and Beatrice were Jewish, and Beatrice was a ‘half-orphan’ — a child with one parent, but that parent was incapable of looking after her.”
According to Montrose Morris, a historian of Brooklyn neighborhoods, “by 1933, during the Great Depression, the (asylum) estimated that 65 percent of their children had parents, but the parents were too poor to take care of them.”