Sue Kidd (1933–2017)
Sue Kidd was a female baseball star who gained local fame for the athletic prowess she displayed while playing on and against all-male baseball teams in Van Buren County and surrounding areas.
Glenna Sue Kidd was born in Choctaw (Van Buren County) on September 2, 1933, to William Marvin Kidd and Julia Duncan Kidd, local farmers and merchants, though her father also served as postmaster at Choctaw. She had five siblings. The original community of Choctaw was covered by water when Greers Ferry Lake was filled in the 1960s. That community is now referred to as “old Choctaw,” as opposed to the present community of “new Choctaw” located on state Highway 65.
As a student at Clinton High School, Kidd pitched so well that she was allowed to play on the high school boys’ baseball team in 1949. She was best known in the county for a game she pitched and won in 1949 at the age of fifteen. She was backed up by a pick-up team of male amateur baseball players from Choctaw, Bee Branch (Van Buren County), and Morganton (Van Buren County) that had been put together by her father, an avid baseball fan. Kidd pitched for all nine innings and became known for a deceptive curve ball.
Kidd graduated from high school in 1950 but got her chance at professional ball the previous year, in June 1949, when the Springfield Sallies and Chicago Colleens, traveling teams in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, came through Arkansas playing exhibition games in Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), and Hot Springs (Garland County). The league had been formed in 1942 when baseball’s management became worried that major league baseball parks would be closed and seasons canceled because of World War II. Kidd tried out for the league at Ray Winder Field in Little Rock when she was fifteen years old. The Sallies were so impressed by her tryout that they added her to their roster, and she played the second night in Little Rock.
She was on the touring team the first season and then joined the South Bend Blue Sox as a pitcher/first baseman. She pitched a no-hitter in 1949 with the Springfield Sallies, was instrumental in South Bend’s winning the league championships in 1951 and 1952, and pitched a double-header (winning both games) against the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Chicks. Her career consisted of stints with the Springfield Sallies (1949), Peoria Redwings (1950), and the South Bend Blue Sox (1950–1954).
After her athletic career ended, Kidd attended Arkansas State Teachers College in Conway (Faulkner County), now the University of Central Arkansas, from which she received a BSE in physical education with a minor in social studies in 1965 and a master’s in physical education in 1966. She began her teaching and coaching career and taught physical education for twenty-five years in Onward and Logansport, Indiana, twelve years of which were spent coaching three sports—basketball, volleyball, and track and field.
In 1988, a permanent display was opened at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, honoring the women of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. This exhibit, “Women in Baseball,” was the first of its kind in the previously all-male hall. Kidd was present for the celebration, and her name is among those names engraved permanently on the display plaque.
Kidd had a bit part in the 1992 movie A League of Their Own. Directed by Penny Marshall, the movie told the story of the all-girls league and starred Madonna, Tom Hanks, Lori Petty, and Rosie O’Donnell.
After living in Indiana for many years, Kidd returned Choctaw. She never married and had no children.
She died in Choctaw on May 4, 2017.
For additional information:
Boise, Robert J. “Sue Kidd Honored with Exhibit in Baseball Hall of Fame.” Van Buren County Democrat, November 30, 1988, p. 1B.
———. “That Girl Kidd Could Really Throw Some Smoke.” Arkansas Gazette, September 13, 1978, p. 4B.
Ivy, Darren. “No Skirting the Issue.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, September 17, 2003, pp. 1C, 3C.
Kidd, Sue. “Interview with Mary Lou Caden, Sue Kidd and Dolly White.” Audio at Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Bobby L. Roberts Library of Arkansas History & Art, Central Arkansas Library System: Caden, Kidd, and White Interview (accessed September 14, 2022).
Stinnett, Erik. “A League of Her Own.” Arkansas Christian Herald, February 2002, pp. 1, 3.
Van Buren County Democrat, September 20, 1949, p. 1.
Van Buren County Historical Society
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Sue Kidd, or “Ms. Kidd” as I knew her, was my elementary school gym teacher at Fairview Elementary, in Logansport, Indiana, in the late 1970s and early 1980s (sorry Sue, to tell your age; it tells mine, too). Of course, at the time, I didn’t appreciate her history and fame. I still remember her guidance and common sense to athletics, though, and life lessons as presented to a pre-teen. Of course, being from a small town in Indiana, we thought the fact that she was involved in the movie A League of Their Own was exciting and interesting, and, later, I was in awe of her history and accomplishments, of which I had no idea or comprehension of at six years old. I saw the movie again tonight, which made me think of her again, and look Ms. Kidd up on the Web, and I found this Encyclopedia entry. Trust me, she’s the real deal. Her ways had an effect on me and shaped my early life, to make me who I am today. Thank you, Ms. Kidd.