Thelma Jo Walmesley grew up with baseball as her brother, Wiggy, was a great catcher for the Copper Cliff baseball team and eventually for the Toronto Maple Leafs ball club. Walmesley would "borrow" her brother's equipment to practice playing the sport.
Her practice paid off as Jo Walmesley became one of the best ballplayers in all of Ontario. She could play almost any defensive position and she was a superior hitter.
Jo Walmesley made history as the first and only female Sudburian to play professional baseball in the United States. In 1946, she beat out hundreds of American hopefuls to become the only Canadian player on the Racine Wisconsin Belles baseball team. Walmesley played with the Belles for two seasons and in one of her seasons, her team won the league pennant and went on to the women's World Series.
It is believed that the character of Dottie Hinson, played by actress Geena Davis in the movie "A League of Their Own" was based on Jo Walmesley's experience in the American league.
Material compiled from Homegrown Heroes: A Sports History of Sudbury.