Professional baseball player turned volunteer
Ysora Kinney, volunteer, Palmetto General Hospital
Not every woman can say she was a professional baseball player in the 1940s, but longtime Palmetto General mailroom volunteer Ysora Kinney, 82, was bravely holding down third base as one of the nation’s first female players before she was sorting mail for the hospital.
"I played professional baseball with the All American Girls Professional Baseball League in 1949. In 1951, when I got married, I quit," she says.
Her profile on the league's website has the Havana native listed as a right-hander who lent her skills to the Chicago Colleens, the Kalamazoo Lassies and the Kenosha Comets. Before that, she played for the Cubanas baseball team, which traveled through Latin America.
Ysora - who was affectionately nicknamed Chico and Pepper - left the league to marry her husband, a stadium worker, and two years later, the league was disbanded for good. Later, the women players were immortalized in the Geena Davis/Tom Hanks film, A League Of Their Own.
When her husband passed away, Ysora needed another purpose in life, so she turned to Palmetto General Hospital.
"When my husband died, I decided I could stay home or I could come over here and volunteer. I picked Palmetto because I thought it was the best hospital to work for," she says. "I have worked in the mail room along with my boss for 18 years. I do anything from delivering mail to making copies for different departments."
It may not seem as exciting as guarding a base, but it’s the camaraderie among the staff that reminds her of the bonds she created with the girls during those long bus rides to the games.
"Everybody is so nice – it’s like a family," Ysora says. "I am 82 years old now, so as long as I’m able to volunteer here, I will do it from the heart."