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Luella Kye

Luella Kye

Luella Kye

When Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame inductee Luella Kye was playing semi-pro softball in the early 1950s for Koch's Annies girls softball team - a fast-pitch traveling squad that played in Erie, Buffalo, Toronto and Cleveland - she left a lasting impression even when she made an out.

As legend has it, Kye, then in her early 20s, was stationed at first base. As she slid into second base on an attempted steal, she reached out and caught the ball thrown by the catcher, came up out of her slide, dropped the ball on second base and stole third.

She didn't stay there for long - the umpire, of course, called her out - but that memory has served as a metaphor for the athletic career of the late Stockton native.

"Luella was a pioneer in Chautauqua County," said Tammy Rea, a former player on two of Kye's softball teams in the late 1970s and early 1980s. "She opened the doors for women and girls. If you knew Lu, you would know that she did not walk through those doors quietly. She barged through."

Armed with that larger-than-life personality, Kye opened doors before and after Title IX and produced an athletic resume that has earned her a place in the CSHOF. In addition to her prowess on those Koch's team - she was a catcher on that squad from 1949-1953 - Kye was also a fine baseball player, playing for the Stockton men's team in the Grape Belt League, the first female to ever do so.

But there's more. Much more.

Consider:

- Kye was the first certified female baseball umpire east of the Mississippi River, working games in Chautauqua County from 1961-1979; umpired county softball from 1977-82; served as president and umpire-in-chief for for the Pomfret-Fredonia men's softball league from 1972-75; was the assignor for the Chautauqua Softball Umpires Association for years; was inducted into the Chautauqua County Umpires Hall of Fame in 1987; and worked more than 1,500 games in 22 years.
- As a coach, she earned entry in the Western New York Softball Hall of Fame in 1993 after guiding teams in the Jamestown Recreation League, including the first ASA-sanctioned women's team in 1979-80, and the Eden Fast-Pitch League; and guided Cassadaga Little League and Babe Ruth League softball teams to regionals. And, finally, she was a softball administrator, serving in many roles in the early 1980s, including co-organizer and commissioner of the Western New York Women's Fast-Pitch Association in Eden.

"Luella was a larger-than-life personality," Rea said.

Luella Kye died in 2012. He was inducted into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame in 2019.


Join the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame

A membership program is available to persons who are interested in preserving the history of sports in Chautauqua County and honoring the outstanding individuals who have created our cherished sports memories.

In addition to helping the CSHoF carry out its twin missions of maintaining a hall of fame and exhibit hall, members will receive several value-added benefits for their membership fee.

To join, please contact Russ Ecklund at
716-484-7684 or send an e-mail to membership@chautauquasportshalloffame.org

CSHoF

Inductees are honored at the hall in Jamestown, NY.

 


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