In December of 1999, the Minneapolis Star Tribune named its 100 most important sports figures of the 20th century. Jean Havlish, who grew up in St. Paul, is the only bowler on the list.
The Star Tribune said Havlish was "Perhaps the finest bowler in Minnesota history" but her accomplishments in bowling aren't the only reason that she was included in list.
Havlish had started bowling after playing in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) for three seasons.
Havlish, who attended St. Paul Washington High School, signed with the Fort Wayne Daisies after a tryout in the summer of 1952. After appearing in a few games at the end of the 1952 season, Havlish was the Daisies' starting shortstop in 1953 and 1954. The Daisies won league titles in each of the three seasons Havlish played for the team. It was the only time in the 12-year history of the league that a team won three consecutive titles.
After the AAGPBL folded following the 1954 season, Havlish returned to Minnesota and briefly played for the Minneapolis Comets — a fast-pitch softball team.
Havlish turned bowling and eventually participated in numerous state and national amateur competitions. She won the State 600 Tournament four times.
In 1964 she became the first and only Minnesotan ever to win the top division Women's International when she rolled record totals of 690 in the three-game singles series and a 1,980 in the nine-game all-events — team, singles, doubles.
Havlish once held the highest bowling average over a 20-year span for all U.S. women bowlers, 190. She later bowled successfully on the professional tour, winning three tournament titles.
She was named to the Women's International Bowling Congress Hall of Fame in 1987. In 1999, Sports Illustrated ranked her 36th among the 50 top Minnesota athletes of the 20th century.
Sports: Bowling, baseball.
Team: Fort Wayne Daisies (AAGPBL).