“STRIKE three—you’re out,” and yet another dejected Victorian softballer trailed back to the bench.
It was underdog WA versus the highly regarded Victorians at the 1952 national championships and there wasn’t a lot for the rest of the WA team to do as pitcher Patricia Tatham (later Grice) struck out batter after batter with her lightning-fast arm and her about to become infamous “rising pitch”.
The Victorians had only been beaten once before in an Australian softball championship but this time they barely ran a runner to first base as the diminutive 26-year-old pitched an unprecedented second “shut out” of the championship, and the opposition failed to score a single run.
Tatham’s elated team mates chaired her off the diamond. She became the first Western Australian to be named in an all-Australian team.
Last week Pat Grice died, aged 87, leaving behind a sporting legacy that saw her the first inductee in the International Softball Hall of Fame in 1983, and her name inscribed on Fremantle council’s inaugural sporting wall of fame in 1988.
In her early 20s, she established the first Fremantle Women’s Softball Club, which later became the Fremantle Rebels. And, as publicity officer from 1969–1987 she raised the profile of the sport with weekly articles in the West Australian and the Sunday Times, going on to be elected to the committee of the WA branch of the Sports Writers’ Association.
When softball was no longer an option, Grice joined the Fremantle Bowls Club where, with her trademark fierce competitiveness, she won many a championship and served many years on the committee in a variety of roles from president to secretary—and as publicity officer.
Pat Grice’s funeral is at Bowra & O’Dea on South Street, Wednesday July 8, 10am.
Disclaimer: Pat Grice is reporter Jenny D’Anger’s mum.
by JENNY D’ANGER