UPI

This is a photo of Freda Savona (right) and her younger sister Olympia (left), who helped lead the New Orleans Jax Maids to several national titles in the 1940s. As discussed in Fastpitch, Freda and Olympia were recruited from Ohio to play for the Jax team and quickly became celebrities in New Orleans. They spent the war years winning national fastpitch trophies and playing against U.S. servicemen in the South Pacific and other far-flung locales. By the time the above photo was taken, in 1948, the Savona sisters were nearing the end of their athletic careers, and the Jax Maids had left the Amateur Softball Association after being stripped of their 1947 national title for dubious reasons. The Jax spent the ’48 and ’49 seasons playing in the rival National Softball Congress, along with the Phoenix A-1 Queens, another brewery-owned team. The team disbanded not long afterward, and the Savona sisters moved up to Chicago to play in the small professional women’s softball league that had formed there.

Neither Savona sister ever married, and they faded from public view after the 1950s, eventually moving back to Ohio. I had trouble even finding obituaries for them, but they died within a few years of each other and are apparently buried together in their Ohio hometown beneath a shared headstone. I would love to learn more about what their later years were like. Certainly, their teens and twenties were filled with travel, excitement, and historically unprecedented opportunities to play sports at a high level.