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From BR Bullpen
Connie Wisniewski (Polish Rifle, Iron Woman)
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 5' 8", Weight 147 lb.
Connie Wisniewski holds the AAGPBL record for best winning percentage (.690) by a pitcher. She began her career with the expansion Milwaukee Chicks in 1944. That year she went 23-10 with a 2.23 ERA, 7th in the league. After losing the opener in the championship to the Kenosha Comets and Helen Nicol, Wisniewski shutout Kenosha in game 3 for Milwaukee's first win. She was on the mound for a 7-1 victory to tie the series the next contest. In game 6, after Milwaukee lost game 5, she won a 13-inning pitching-duel with Nicol by a 2-1 score. She then won the finale with a 3-0 shutout to beat Nicol once more. Connie had allowed 21 hits and 2 walks in 45 innings in the post-season and had a 0.40 ERA.
Wisniewski would fare even better the next season. The Chicks moved to Grand Rapids and Connie set league records for innings (391) and ERA (0.81). She went 32-11 and led the league in victories; the rest of the Grand Rapids staff was just 28-39. Wisniewski pitched one shutout in the playoffs but lost 1-0 and 2-0 decisions to Carolyn Morris. She won the league's first Player of the Year award that season.
In 1946 the Polish Rifle set a win record with 33 while losing just 9 games; her 0.96 ERA led the league once again. She also was improving at the plate and hit .250, second on the club. She was voted the top pitcher in the circuit though Sophie Kurys beat her out for Player of the Year honors. She pitched 40 complete games in 40 starts in the 1946 campaign. For once Connie struggled in the playoffs, going 1-2 with one save and a 1.73 ERA.
With deliveries changing from underhand to sidearm in 1947, Connie's dominance eroded. She was just 16-14 with a 2.15 ERA for Grand Rapids, the #3 hurler on the staff. She began playing the outfield regularly and hit .291, third in the AAGPBL. Connie went 2-1 in the postseason and hit 15 for 52 as a strong two-way threat.
1948 was the final year on the hill for the former pitching star, who was 3-4 with a 2.47 ERA in 8 games on the mound. As a pitcher she had gone 107-48 with a 1.48 ERA and 8-6 with a 1.06 ERA in the postseason. Now the team's top offensive force, Connie hit .289/~.385/.392; she was third in the league in average again, led the circuit with 7 home runs, was third with 172 total bases, second with 66 RBI, fourth with 127 hits, tied for 6th with 70 runs, second with 20 doubles and drew 68 walks. She made the All-Star team as an outfielder that year.
By 1949 Wisniewski had become a full-time outfielder and again was an All-Star, hitting .278/~.366/.345 though her homer total fell from 7 to 0. Wisniewski lost the batting title by a single point to Doris Sams, she was second in total bases (140), second in hits (113, 1 behind Sams), second in runs (64, 6 behind Kurys), 3rd with 13 doubles and tied for 5th with 7 triples.
In 1950 Wisniewski left the league for the National Girls Baseball League, which allowed her to pitch with an underhand windmill style once more. She won 30 games but returned to the AAGPBL a year later.
In 1951 Wisniewski made her third All-Star team as a flychaser, hitting .326/~.401/.412. The Grand Rapids' top contact hitter again finished third in the AAGPBL in hitting and she was third in total bases (159), tied for second in hits (126), 7th in runs (78), tied for 7th in doubles (15) and tied for second in triples (9).
Connie finished her career in 1952 with a .267/~.364/.322 season. She tied for fourth in runs (64) and was tied for 10th with 35 steals, but she was no longer a dominant player and injuries were effecting her play. After the year ended, Wisniewski retired as one of the greatest AAGPBL stars ever.
She died of stomach cancer in 1995.