Doris Hickson Grosch has been a member of many softball teams: the Camp White Orphans, the Q-Ts, the Crater Babes, the Dairy Maids, the VA Maids.
The 81-year-old Eagle Point resident will join another club on Dec. 1: The Oregon Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame.
Hickson Grosch is being recognized for her pioneering spirit, decades of contributions and great success in the sport at the Oregon Gardens in Silverton. The other inductees are players Becky Hanson of Cottage Grove and Roseburg's George Decker, umpire John Garrett of Keizer, coach Jerry Orlando of Salem and meritorious honorees Curt Gould of Medford and Perk Carter of St. Helen's.
Scholarship recipients will include South Medford's Richele Tacdol.
Hickson Grosch began playing softball as a young teenager at Camp White and did not stop until the 1970s. During that span, she participated in a countless number of fastpitch and slowpitch contests (both as player and coach) and helped pave the way for female athletes, whom she says have it easy compared to when she was growing up.
Karen Meats, a 2002 University of Oregon Hall of Fame inductee, nominated Hickson Grosch. Meats played fastpitch in the 1960s for the Eugene McCulloch Chain Saws.
"Doris was Medford's scrappy first baseman, a very good hitter and a fast baserunner," Meats said in an email. "She earned many all-state, all-regional and all-opponent team honors, plus she was also a very good role model. I just recently learned from one of her former teammates (and also their team's leading pitcher, Pat Barron) that Doris took it upon herself to be a 'mother' to the team, telling them to get enough sleep and behave!"
Hickson Grosch began swinging baseball bats when she was a tiny girl tagging along with the neighborhood boys in Eagle Point.
"Kids in those days made their own games," recalls Hickson Grosch, who is already a member of the Medford Sports Hall of Fame. "We didn't sit in the house with gimmicks you play on the computer. We played baseball, football and basketball, rain or shine."
Her mom Beryl Hickson was School District 9's clerk for 35 years.
"My mother had a big impact," says Hickson Grosch, who lives in the same home that her mother and father built when she was 5. "She was an excellent mother. She was there for everything. She was a single mother who raised two daughters and did whatever it took to keep food on the table and the bills paid. And there was not a woman in the valley who spent more time in the car or on the bleacher seats at ball games."
When she was 13, Hickson Grosch played on an intramural softball team called the Camp White Orphans at Jackson County's Army training base during World War II.
Hickson Grosch graduated from Eagle Point High in 1949. During high school, she and all other girls could only participate in intramural activities.
It aggravates Hickson Grosch that females did not get the chance to compete against other schools like the boys did.
"We had a play day once a year that we went to at (Southern Oregon University) where all the girls in the county came," Hickson Grosch says. "That was the only contact we had with any other schools. ... I am very jealous of these girls now. They don't realize what they have, the opportunities they have that we never had."
After Camp White folded, Hickson Grosch and some other teammates helped to establish a four-team league with squads in Medford, Eagle Point, Central Point and Butte Falls. She played for the Q-Ts and later for the Crater Babes, which had sponsorship. The Babes went as far as Mount Shasta and Dunsmuir to compete.
Along the way, Hickson Grosch's squads sometimes took on men — "but when we got to beating them they kicked us out." Also, one of the teams she played for went 26 innings and played until 2 a.m. against a club from Eugene. Only the most loyal of supporters remained in the stands for that one.
At the pinnacle of her career, Hickson Grosch participated in the elite-level Northwest Women's Major Fast Pitch League. She and her teammates hosted and made trips to Spokane, Wash., Yakima, Wash., Port Angeles, Wash., Vancouver, B.C., Seattle, Portland, Roseburg and Eugene.
"The veterans were our fans," Hickson Grosch recalls. "Every month at the first of the month, on pay day, some of the members of the team would go out and stand in the chow line. As vets came through they dropped money in our donation boxes. That helped pay for things like hotels and meals."
Her squad began practicing twice a week in April, started league play in May and then practiced and played until the final week of August.
"Then we would come home after two games and we older ones went to work on Monday," says Hickson Grosch, who worked in retail for 50 years — 39 at Woolworth, six at J. C. Penney and five at J.J. Newberry Company. "We wouldn't get home until three or four in the morning."
Her final team, the VA Maids, folded in 1973. After playing, she coached some men's and women's slowpitch teams for four or five years.
But there would be no comeback for Hickson Grosch.
"You don't mess with a good thing," she says. "I've seen too many people who should have retired two or three years earlier and they've lost their edge."
Hickson Grosch also coached several boys teams as a young adult.
"A guy came to me and wanted to get something for kids to participate in," she recalls. "His motto was we just want kids to enjoy themselves."
Hickson Grosch's response?
"The way you have fun is by winning games," she says. "We experienced a lot of winning. We hardly ever got beat."
Hickson Grosch looks at the youth now and wishes they were more dedicated, she says.
"I don't go to too many of the games," Hickson Grosch says. "It's too upsetting. I sit in the stands and hear parents say, 'They have to go to Roseburg, I just hate that.'" I think, 'Good grief.' We were dedicated. From the first of April to September we didn't do anything but play softball."
Playing golf now keeps Hickson Grosch's competitive side going. She is a regular at Eagle Point Golf Course.
"I'm not nearly as competitive, but I'm also not as young as I used to be," she says. "My problem is my bowling average went down and my golf handicap went up."
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email firstname.lastname@example.org