Dot Wilkinson is widely known as one of the greatest Fastpitch Softball players to have ever played the game.
She began playing for the Phoenix Ramblers in the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) in 1933…. at the age of 11.
Seriously, she was 11!
She actually started that year as the bat girl and her skills were so noticeable that she made the team before the end of the season.
Dot would go on to play for the Ramblers until 1965, winning three national championships in the process. She was the team’s catcher, which is a demanding position that serves as the unofficial field leader and game caller. Later in her career she both played and managed the team at the same time.
Wilkinson – who was a 19 time ASA All American – regularly batted well over .300 (over .400 in some cases). For those that aren’t very familiar with Softball, that batting average is incredible.
Yet Dot wasn’t only a dangerous hitter, she was a solid defensive catcher as well. Sports Illustrated even wrote a piece about Dot in 1960, calling her “A Female Yogi” – as in, Baseball’s legendary catcher Yogi Berra.
Playing softball back in the mid twentieth century was incredibly competitive, but not very financially rewarding. So Dot had to work hard as a house flipper and realtor when she wasn’t playing Softball. Yet the real estate game didn’t derail her playing career, which remained at a Hall of Fame level. In fact, Dot was elected to the Softball Hall of Fame in 1970 in her very first year of eligibility.
Something that’s also interesting about her was that Dot was an incredible bowler. She was so good that she won a bowling “Triple Crown”, in addition to the the Women’s International Bowling Congress Queens Tournament in 1962, followed thereafter by winning the 1963 WIBC national singles.
Due to her bowling success, Dot was inducted into the International Bowling Hall of Fame in 1990. She is the only person to be in both the Softball Hall of Fame and any other sports Hall of Fame.
A native of Arizona, Dot was also inducted into the Arizona Hall of Fame. An interesting anecdote about that is she was booed at her induction speech due to the fact that she was a woman. According to reports, upon hearing the boo’s Dot started her speech with “thank you – now I feel at home!” By the time her speech ended, she was given a standing ovation.
Later, in 1999, she was named among the top ten all-time greatest athletes in Arizona’s history.
In 2014, a book was written about Softball in the 1940s that prominently featured Dot Wilkinson. It received great reviews, and shortly thereafter she was the subject of a documentary film.
Even now, at the age of 98 (going on 99), Wilkinson remains a Softball icon. In addition to her recent work collaborating on the book and the documentary, she has also thrown out the first pitch at a professional Baseball game in her hometown of Phoenix YouTube video of Dot throwing out the pitch is here.
Dot Wilkinson is truly a world class athlete that has lived an amazing life, which more people should know about!
Want to read about more amazing female athletes in history? Check these out next:
- Julia Chase-Brand, Breaking Down Barriers for Women Athletes
- Fanny Blankers-Koen, wife, mother, and four-time Olympic gold medalist
- Wilma Rudolph, Olympic gold medalist & civil rights pioneer
- Fannie Sperry Steele, award-winning rodeo performer
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Scott Perry writes at Catcher’s Home (catchershome.com), a website dedicated to Baseball and Softball catchers.