Claire (Schillace) Donahue was the first woman drafted to play in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League in 1943, and played for four seasons as a center fielder for the Racine, Wisconsin Belles.
The women’s league was established during World War II, when the major leagues were suffering a shortage of players due to the wartime effort.
Donahue earned an undergraduate degree from Northern Illinois University and a master’s degree in physical education from New York University. She married U.S. Agency for International Development employee Joseph Donahue and traveled with him to Germany, Ethiopia, Bolivia and Iran. She taught in those countries and helped out with Little League and volunteered as a youth counselor.
The Donahues later settled in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, where Claire taught at Kensington Junior High School and was an active member of the All American Girls’ alumnae association. Donahue also lent her experience and expertise to the creation of a Babe Ruth Museum exhibit that will preserve memorabilia, pictures and stories from All-American Girls League players for generations to come. The Babe Ruth Museum is located within Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland.