As the Great Depression brought America to the brink of disaster, a devoted single mother in Cleveland, Ohio, wrestled triumph out of adversity by creating a community activity that would inspire the nation. Josephine Morhard never waited for something to happen. At twelve years old, fiercely independent Josephine left her family’s Pennsylvania farm to start a new life. Coming of age during one of the most devastating times in America, and weathering two bad marriages, Josephine put her personal problems aside to insure a productive future for her daughter and son. But Junior was a volatile boy of eight—until his mother came upon a novel sports idea to encourage discipline, guidance, and self-worth in her son. Out of a dream, an empty lot, and the enthusiasm of other neighborhood kids, Josephine established the first boys’ baseball league in America. Her city—and the country—was watching.
Beyond all expectations, the Cleveland Indians rallied behind her project. Indians legends Bob Feller, Jeff Heath, and Roy Weatherly helped hone the boys’ skills; renowned sports reporter Hal Lebovitz became an umpire; and they were given permission to play in historic League Park. All the while, as Josephine’s Little Indians graduated into the Junior American and Junior National Leagues, and finally a Little World Series, she instilled in her boys strong values, good sportsmanship, and an unprecedented sense of accomplishment. Some of them, like Ray Lindquist and Jack Heinen, would become Minor League players. Not one of Mrs. Morhard’s boys would ever forget her.
In this stirring biography of an unsung American heroine, Josephine Morhard’s daughter-in-law recounts the extraordinary life and accomplishments of a resilient, selfless, and determined woman. Her inspiring true story—a long time coming—is something to cheer for.
About the Author
Ruth Hanford Morhard holds a Certificate in Creative Nonfiction from Stanford University. As head of Ruth Reid & Company, her day job is marketing and communications consultant to national and regional institutions. She has been a senior executive with major philanthropic and arts institutions and has taught public relations writing. Morhard lives in Chardon, Ohio, with her husband Al, son of Josephine Morhard.
“Josephine Morhard is a heroine for our times: A devoted single mother who never took no for an answer, she single-handedly started the first boys' baseball league in America. Josephine enriched the lives of countless young boys and shaped American baseball history. Her daughter-in-law, Ruth Morhard, is a deft biographer and has written a narrative that reads like the best old movies: charming, vivid, and inspirational.” —Anne Zimmerman, author of AN EXTRAVAGANT HUNGER: THE PASSIONATE YEARS OF M.F.K. FISHER