Hillsdale's Maxine Randall, star pitcher in women's pro baseball league in '40s and '50s, dies at 92

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Maxine "Max" Louise Randall, a Hillsdale native who starred in the women's professional baseball league that became the inspiration for the hit movie, "A League of Their Own," died earlier this month.

Randall, born Maxine Kline in North Adams, Mich., died June 9 in Hillsdale. She was 92.

Kline grew up in Addison, Mich., south of Jackson and starred in basketball at North Adams High, the anchor of three undefeated seasons. After graduating high school in 1948, she attended a tryout for the Fort Wayne Daisies of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, and made the team, originally as an outfielder. Because of other injuries , she was moved to the pitching rotation.

Maxine Kline Randall was one of the top pitchers in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

And the rest was history, as Kline became what historians consider one of the top five pitchers in the history of the league, which was founded during World War II in 1943 and ran through 1954.

A right-hander who stood 5-foot-7, Randall used an overpowering fastball to rack up 116 wins, fifth in league history. During her career, she had a 2.05 ERA, and was named an All-Star five times.

She also threw two no-hitters, both against the Grand Rapids Chicks, in 1949 and 1954. In 1950, she led the league with 23 wins. The year after that, she was 18-4 with a 1.95 ERA. And in 1952, Randall recorded six shutouts and was 19-7.

As her obituary read, a friend described Kline as, "Salt, grit and a baseball mitt."

The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League originally was designed for softball, before the league changed to baseball. Many softball pitchers couldn't make the transition from underhand to overhand, but Kline had no problems there.

In 1954, the last year of the league, she had a league-best 18 wins, 24 complete games and six shutouts. She also threw her second no-hitter.

After the league folded, Kline joined several fellow players in touring the United States. The Allington All-Stars, or the All-Americans, toured from 1955-57, playing exhibitions against male teams.

Following her playing career, Kline worked at Jonesville Tool and Manufacturing, where she met Robert Randall. They were married at 1973, and lived on a farm in Hillsdale.

One of 10 children, Kline is survived by sister Donna Stanlake and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by Robert in 2010. Private funeral arrangements were held earlier this month.

We're running a new-subscriber special. Support local journalism, and subscribe here.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984