Helen Nicol Fox
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 3", Weight 120 lb.
During her career, Helen Nicol Fox set multiple AAGPBL records. She is the all-time league leader in games pitched (313), wins (163), consecutive wins (13 in 1943), losses (118), innings pitched (2,382), earned runs allowed (499), hits allowed (1,579), strikeouts (1,076), opponent at-bats (7,537) and sacrifice hits allowed (246). Never much of an offensive threat, she batted .154 on her career. Her career ERA was 1.89 and she was even sharper in the postseason, with a 1.83 ERA and 13-7 record.
Helen Nicol began her career with the Kenosha Comets in the league's first season, 1943. In addition to rattling off those 13 wins in a row, she led the league in wins (31-8), strikeouts (220), complete games (33), ERA (1.81), innings pitched (348) and shutouts (8, tied with Olive Little for the most). In the Scholarship Series, though, she lost two games to Mary Nesbitt of the Racine Belles and Kenosha fell. Nicol had a 4.50 post-season ERA that year.
Nicol's record fell to 17-11 in 1944 but she again had the best ERA in the league, at 0.93. Her ERA was 1.09 in the Scholarship Series, but she was just 2-3, losing three of four matchups with Connie Wisniewski. Even when Kenosha finished last (41-69) in 1945, Helen (now married and using the name Helen Fox) managed a good record (24-19); she was fourth in ERA (1.34) and wins (24) and second in strikeouts (220, trailing only Dorothy Wiltse) and innings (357, trailing Connie Wisniewski). With Kenosha again doing horribly (42-70) in 1946, Fox fell under .500 for the first time, with a 15-17 ledger. She fell to 10th in ERA (2.09), tied for fourth in batters fanned (137) and missed the top 10 in victories.
With pitching deliveries switching from underhand to side-arm, many AAGPBL pitching greats faded away. Fox slipped in 1947 to 6-16, 2.62 and split the year between Kenosha and the Rockford Peaches, but in 1948 she bounced back with Rockford and made the transition effectively to overhand throwing. Helen went 17-13 with a 2.61 ERA. Fox won all four playoff games she pitched, including the finale in the championship against the Fort Wayne Daisies, when she beat Maxine Kline, 4-2.
She then reasserted herself as one of the top AAGPBL pitchers in 1949 at age 29 with a 13-8 season and a 0.98 ERA. Only teammate Lois Florreich had a lower ERA and Helen tied for fourth in the league with seven shutouts. Fox was 2-0 in the playoffs and Rockford won their second straight championship.
The 1950 season saw Fox continue to shine with Rockford, as she had a 1.98 ERA. Her record was a disappointing 14-12 on a first-place Peaches team. She was fifth in the league in ERA, her fifth top-five finish in eight seasons. In the playoffs, she went 4-1, including a win over Fort Wayne in the crucial Game Seven.
In 1951 Fox won 18 games, lost 7 and had a 2.57 ERA. She tied for second in the league in victories, two behind leader Rose Gacioch, was third in complete games (23) and fourth in innings (214). She won her first two playoff games, but with the championship within reach, she lost game four of the finals 6-3 to the South Bend Blue Sox and Rockford failed in their bid for a fourth title in a row. She wrapped up her dazzling career at age 32 with a 8-7, 2.50 year in 1952 and didn't appear in the postseason that time.
- Gary Belleville: "June 25, 1943: Kenosha’s Helen Nicol hurls 13 scoreless innings of relief, drives in winning run," SABR Baseball Games Project.
- Gary Belleville: "September 17, 1950: Rockford Peaches win third straight AAGPBL title on Helen Nicol Fox’s Game 7 shutout," SABR Baseball Games Project.