Contributed by Robyn Marcs, WRHS Grants Manager
Alta Weiss was born into a Jewish family, the second of three daughters, in Berlin Heights, OH. By the time she was 17, Alta was playing semipro baseball for the Vermillion Independents. She was the only woman on her team, and her male teammates and the manager were at first skeptical about letting her play. After 15 strikeouts in one game, they realized her talent and let her join the team. Each weekend, she made the 127-mile trip from Ragersville, OH to Vermillion to play ball, debuting on the mound in September 1907. Alta quickly earned the name “Girl Wonder” for her pitching prowess. The following year, her father established the Weiss All-Star semipro team, and people flocked from miles around to catch a game featuring the talented lady pitcher.
Alta was a sensation, garnering attention for her skill and poise on the mound. While still on the Vermillion team, Alta was able to play at League Park, now the home of the Baseball Heritage Museum, against future Hall of Famer Nap Lajoie and the Cleveland Naps. A special train was even built to Cleveland just for those who wanted to see Alta play there! Of her skill Nap said: “she looked to me to have as much as many men pitchers … but really, I was surprised to find that she could pitch so well.” Vermillion beat the Indians that day, 4-2.
Alta used her funds from her baseball barnstorming days to good use, and paid her way through higher education. In 1914, Alta graduated medical school from The Ohio State Medical College, the only woman in her class. She continued to play baseball until 1922, when she decided to practice medicine full time. Alta passed away in 1964 and is buried in Winesburg, OH. She truly helped paved the way for women in baseball, and was a local woman in a league of her own.