Bicentennial marker to honor Olinger, Southworth


Can’t wrap your head around not having baseball on July 4? Fear not … the Delaware County Bicentennial Committee has you covered.

While there won’t be any games to tune into, the committee announced it will dedicate its latest Ohio Historical Marker at the former Southworth Memorial Park (122111 Hartford Road) July 4 at 1 p.m.

The event, which will honor Billy Southworth and Marilyn “Corky” Olinger, will be open to the public. Spectators, of course, are asked to social distance and wear masks.

It could be just enough for area fans to get their fix on a day, America’s birthday, that’s synonymous with the game.

Baseball’s almost back — Major League Baseball players and owners recently agreed to hold 2020 Opening Day either July 23 or 24 — but its pandemic-induced hiatus has left diehard fans and casual spectators alike with a newfound appreciation of the game … and its rich history.

Olinger and Southworth are both a part of that history, and the history of Sunbury.

Olinger, who was born May 19, 1929 in Berkshire Township, moved to Rainbow Avenue in Sunbury early in her childhood.

She played intramural sports as a youth, but it wasn’t until World War II that she collided with professional baseball.

During the war, many pro players were called to serve in the military and, as a result, many men’s teams were disbanded.

The move opened the door for new professional teams and players, and the All American Girls Professional Baseball League was created to meet that need.

The league, which had 10 teams of 15 players at its peak, was created in 1943. Olinger, who joined up in 1948, played in 599 games with the Chicago Colleens and Grand Rapid Chicks before an injury derailed her career.

The league, which was the subject of the 1992 movie “A League of Their Own,” fizzled out after the war, but was immortalized with an exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. in 2006 — the same year Olinger died.

Southworth, meanwhile, was born on March 9, 1893. He grew up playing baseball in Columbus and eventually made his mark as a coach in the big leagues.

He posted a .597 winning percentage — fifth-best all-time — while managing the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Braves for a combined 13 seasons. He led the Cardinals to a pair of World Series titles (1942 and 1944).

In 1951, Southworth retired to Sunbury, where he had a farm along Big Walnut creek. He died November 15, 1969 at the age of 76 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008.

By Ben Stroup

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